Tea Parties and the Republican Party
By Bruce Walker
The Tea Party movement is trying hard to separate itself from the Republican Party, even to the point of threatening to run as a third party in some races. If Tea Party supporters consider that they are acting in the finest tradition of the American revolutionary spirit, then they should reject a third party movement except in extraordinary circumstances – like supporting Doug Hoffman in the New York House race last year.
The unanimous opposition of Republicans to Obamacare shows a remarkable degree of solidarity on those principles most vital to the preservation of freedom. It is unheard of in Washington for every single member of Congress of one of the two big political parties to oppose a federal bill. Republicans showed this sort of grit weeks after Obama took office, when the Stimulus Bill also passed with no Republican support in the House and only three Republicans in the Senate (one of those three, Specter, has now left the party.)
The idea that the two political parties are fundamentally the same is either simple-minded or insincere. Conservatives were most furious two years ago about the way in which Democrats had chosen the Republican presidential nominee. If, say, John Cornyn or Michelle Bachman had been the Republican nominee, no one would have complained about the absence of choice in 2008. Pulling more of the sixty percent of America which is conservative into the Republican Party will make the party both stronger and more conservative. The more conservatives who leave the Republican Party, the weaker the conservative voice in the party and the less able Republicans will be to oppose the overwhelmingly leftist Democrat Party.
That point is missed by Tea Party folks frustrated with RINOs. Republican Party RINOs are more conservative than "conservative" Democrats in Congress. Moreover, the few Democrats who are not radically leftists come from extremely conservative states. Consider some examples. Mary Landrieu comes from the third most conservative state in America, and yet her ACU lifetime rating is 22%, which is less than half of the ACU rating of either Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, the Republican senators from Maine, the thirty-seventh most conservative state in America. How liberal is Maine? The two Democrat congressmen from Maine have ACU ratings of 14% and 0%. How conservative is Louisiana? Two of the six Republican congressmen have perfect 100% ACU ratings and all have ACU ratings of 55% or higher. North Dakota, the ninth most conservative state in America, has two very liberal Democrat senators. South Dakota, the twelfth most conservative state in America, has three members of Congress. The Democrat House member has a 30% ACU rating. The Democrat senator has a 17% ACU rating. The Republican senator has an 88% ACU rating.
The biggest problem we should have with John McCain is not that he is a RINO – McCain's lifetime ACU rating is 82% - but rather that McCain is much less conservative than his home state of Arizona, the twentieth most conservative state in America. He could have a 100% ACU rating with no problems back home. Snowe and Collins would lose their next election if their ACU ratings were 80%. Even with McCain's problems, though, he votes for Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader, not Harry Reid (just as moderate House Republicans vote for Boehner to be Speaker, and not Pelosi.)
Those Tea Party activists who feel that everyone must be ideologically pristine and identical are no students of history, if they compare themselves to the brave men and women who won us our freedom. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both pivotal political figures in the Revolution, disagreed sharply on many political issues. Ben Franklin, who would have been considered a RINO Whig until very late in his political career, said after the Declaration of Independence was signed "We must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately." What Franklin was acknowledging, of course, was this Tea Party of 1776 in Philadelphia was anything but united. The Tea Party thirteen years later, when the Constitution was written and proposed, was also anything but united. All were members of a defined British political party, the Whigs. What were American opponents of the Revolution called? They were Tories - members of the opposing political party in Britain. Our Revolutionary War, which was fought within Great Britain just as it was within the colonies, was a partisan fight between Whigs (Washington, et. al) and Tories. It was emphatically a war of ideals, but the mechanism through which this war was fought was through two political parties. It was no more possible to win a political war without political parties than it would have been for Washington to fight the Revolutionary War without the Continental Army.
The best two modern arguments against Tea Party activists abandoning the Republican Party for some third party are "Clinton" and "Obama." It is highly unlikely either man would have won the presidency and wreaked havoc on the republic without Republicans who no longer felt that the party belonged to them. The best argument in favor of the Tea Party acting as a conservative pressure group aligned generally with the Republican Party is this salient fact, which I have often reminded readers counts most: 60% of Americans call themselves conservatives. If they also considered themselves Republicans, then these would utterly dominate Republican politics, without the need to try to harry Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins.
America won independence and established our Constitution by uniting, in a common goal, very diverse groups. The Constitution was riddled with "compromises." Thoughtful men accept honorable compromises. Those who wanted to break the colonies into squabbling factions were the British. The Tea Party activists who wish to splinter conservatives will insure that the conservative revolution fails. Sixty percent of America, fighting for the same general objectives, cannot lose…unless the majority chooses to splinter itself into helpless minorities.
Reagan had an 11th Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Any Republican." Reagan was right.
Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.