The Tea Party movement, the GOP & making it work
By Frank Salvato
web posted February 1, 2010
Only the most partisan and/or politically ignorant among us would fail to recognize the magnitude, importance and the consequences of the Tea Party Movement. To be certain, it is a force to be reckoned with. But, as with the science of storms, there is a danger when two forces compete to occupy the same space. We of the Right side of the aisle must recognize this danger and insist that actions are taken, definitions are designated and roles are recognized, lest we turn an important moment in time into catastrophic history.
The Tea Party Movement
The first thing we have to do is to recognize and understand exactly what the Tea Party Movement is, where it came from and why.
Many in the political world have erroneously identified the Tea Party Movement as a political group not unlike the Democrats, Libertarians or Republicans. In fact, this couldn't be further from the truth. Proof to this reality is in the fact that people who have embraced the Tea Party Movement come from every flavor of politics. When over a million people descended on Washington in the name of the Tea Party Movement last Fall, the crowd was comprised of people from every political party – sans the Progressives, every social background, every religion and every race. To say that it is dominated by any one political party is to make a huge mistake.
The Tea Party Movement – and the name itself is symbolic rather than manufactured – is, in reality, the re-awakening of the American people to their obligation to civic responsibility; to governmental oversight. This is nothing new or revolutionary, as was the original Boston Tea Party of 1773.
This re-awakening is actually a return to the obligation of citizenry as envisioned by the Founders and Framers. People like Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin and Madison took for granted that the citizenry would understand their role in government: that of the overseer. The Founders and Framers believed that we would be vigilant in providing governmental oversight, in understanding just who we were electing to office and in holding them accountable for their actions. In short, they believed we, as citizens, would do our part by paying attention to government.
The truth is We the People began to abdicate this solemn responsibility with the advent of government entitlement and as apathy increased, political opportunists, ideologues and nefarious elements – such as the Progressive Movement, the globalists and their proxies – took hold in government. As we slid ever deeper into the abyss of political apathy we lost out government to special interest groups and those who would want to "fundamentally transform" our country from a Constitutional Republic to a cog in a new One-World Order.
The Tea Party Movement is – for all practical purposes – We the People re-establishing our rightful place at the top of the governmental food chain, from whence all the power of government is derived. It is not a political party. It is the American people re-establishing their constitutional right of governmental oversight and redress of government.
Re-Establishing the GOP Brand
Understanding that the Republican Party can never "own" the Tea Party Movement – essentially because the Tea Party Movement is a mindset and not an entity – there remains the issue of re-establishing the Republican brand.
The fact that the Republican brand is in trouble – and has been since at least 2006 – is attributable not only to the lack of governmental oversight by We the People, but by the lack of oversight targeting the political party hierarchy by rank-and-file Republicans. The GOP allowed itself to be co-opted – to a great extent – by inside-the-beltway political operatives that cared more about winning elections than advancing Republican principles.
To recap, aside for its staunch stance against slavery and its support of the Missouri Compromise, the original platform of the Republican Party circa 1856 establishes that the Republican Party stood for:
▪ A rededication of government to constitutional principles, philosophies and limitations
▪ A strong, prudent and principled national security
▪ A well-maintained infrastructure
And perhaps the most important and defining provision,
"RESOLVED, That we invite the affiliation and cooperation of the men of all parties, however differing from us in other respects, in support of the principles herein declared; and believing that the spirit of our institutions as well as the Constitution of our country, guarantees liberty of conscience and equality of rights among citizens, we oppose all legislation impairing their security."
Simply stated, the platform of 1856 created the "big tent" party that Republican National Committee members say they quest for today by limiting the planks in the platform and by employing the understanding that it is more important to safeguard an individual's right to advance their own "special interest" agenda (please understand that the term "special interest" doesn't necessarily mean something unsavory) than it is to champion that special interest as a part of the party's platform.
This concept is brilliance in practice.
The Republicans who crafted the original platform understood that legislating the micromanagement of specific societal mores was a no-win proposition. If one administration choose to advance legislation – or even the establishment of a constitutional amendment – to champion a specific special interest issue, it was understood that all that would be necessary to render that legislation moot would be for a future administration, in possession of an opposing view on the issue, to simply overturn or craft legislation nullifying the prior legislation. They recognized that legislated solutions to societal and/or cultural ills would never – and could never – render the issue resolved. A perfect example of this comes in the issue of prohibition.
Instead, the Republicans who established the original party platform understood that protecting the right of the individual – the right of the individual – to affect societal change and establish cultural mores outside the confines of government was the singular effective political component in resolving societal differences. The Republican Party of 1856 stood for defending the individual's right to affect society and the societal norms, and they expected that the citizenry would be self-motivated and self-sufficient enough to embrace that freedom and the self-ordained civic responsibility to engage on behalf of their societal beliefs.
Today, aside from recovering from the moniker of spendthrift, the Republican Party has morphed into a mirror image of the Progressive-held Democrat Party. They say "black" and the GOP says "white." They have planks in their platform about separation of church and state, abortion, gay rights, etc. and the GOP simply takes the opposite viewpoint. This tactic does not create a choice, it creates division. It does not advance the principles and philosophy of Americanism, it advances factionalism with the body politic, something James Madison and George Washington identified as a direct threat to the Republic.
In re-branding the Republican Party, the leadership would serve its members – and the country – best by refusing to expand the platform to include special interest planks and, instead, returning to the limited plank platform of its roots, where the party championed individual freedom and individual responsibility and engagement where issues of societal mores were concerned, not the legislation of ideological solutions or social engineering. The GOP must resign itself to defending an individual's right to affect change, not to being the vehicle for that change.
The Role of Today's GOP & The Tea Party Movement
As I stated in the beginning, in the science of storms, there is a danger when two forces compete to occupy the same space. This is exquisitely illustrated in the dichotomy of power now playing out between the Tea Party Movement and the Republican Party, most significantly where candidates for office are concerned.
I was heartened to hear that Republican National Committee Political Director Gentry Collins stated the RNC would exercise a "light touch" in the 2010 midterm elections. This approach promises to diminish what could have been a disastrous confrontation between candidates championed by the Tea Party Movement and candidates "mandated" by the RNC. But this is simply a commutation of the inevitable unless a reformation is undertaken by the RNC hierarchy.
In re-branding itself, it would wise for the GOP to take the opportunity afforded by this unique moment in American history to re-invent itself. The Republican National Committee – along with Republican organizations at every level – must re-structure itself to be less the inside-the-beltway command and control entity (an entity that mandates candidates and strong-arms platforms and agendas, which it has most certainly evolved into) and re-dedicate itself to becoming more of a mammoth and viciously efficient support and organizational tool that embraces candidates sent up from the grassroots; Conservatives re-awakened to their constitutionally mandated civic responsibility who have taken it upon themselves to run for office in 2010, 2012 and through the future.
If the Republican Party can wrap its brain around the strategic brilliance of this re-invention, it will position itself to be the preferred political party of those in the Tea Party Movement; it will be the avenue and political structure through which the Tea Party Movement advances their preferred candidates.
If the Republican Party refuses to understand the dramatically changed political landscape of the country, if they refuse to evolve from the inside-the-beltway mentality that allows for the existence of egotistical power-players no different from the elitists now in control of Congress, should the GOP insist on maintaining the status quo, they will be compromised, marginalized and, perhaps, even destroyed by the re-awakening of the American people to their constitutionally mandated obligation to governmental engagement and oversight.
Simply put, the GOP can either adapt and enjoy a promising future or become ineffective.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show airing on AM1220 WSRQ and on the Internet catering to the US Armed Forces around the world and on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.