Today’s posting is apropos for a variety of reasons.
First, and most obvious, is the fact that we are now well into the process for choosing nominees, all across this country, for the 2010 midterm election cycle. Several of these nomination fights have already been going on for quite some time.
And a few have, even at this early stage, already escalated into what we used to call “hot shootin’ wars” that are beginning to claim their first casualties. This one, from May of ’09, makes great strides toward identifying a growing rift on the right. And this is my main focus here.
The idea that the Washington elite and party establishment hacks should be the supreme arbiters of political viability in regards to specific local races & candidates is coming under heavy fire. Taking up the banner in this fight is, essentially, the logical next step for the Tea Party Movement. (Lest we forget, the Tea Parties were FOUNDED, in large part, on a burning resentment toward the stench of arrogance rising from the Cess Pool on the Potomac.) And, we would do well to remember, this resentment began LONG before noon on January 20th, 2009.
Whatever your past or present party affiliations, it is of utmost importance to recognize that our two-party system, for all its failings, is very deeply entrenched in American culture. There have been glimmers of hope for the die-hard Independents and third-party loyalists in years past, but they have always been few & far between. I do not point this out in an attempt to dash anyone’s hopes on that score. Quite to the contrary, in fact. It is my sincere belief that the Tea Party Movement has the potential to change that dynamic.
I say “potential,” because that outcome is becoming increasingly more uncertain. I have seen and heard rumblings, both here in Virginia and elsewhere, of Tea Party “leaders” (as if a grassroots movement of regular citizens could ever really HAVE “leaders” and still be considered a principled movement) and even whole groups essentially being absorbed into the Republican Party. In some instances, this has taken place surreptitiously, with Republican operatives moving in and assuming positions of authority. In other cases, Tea Party members have intentionally diluted their ranks by attempting to overrun the Republican Party, and deluded themselves into thinking this will actually make a difference OR keep their Tea Party viable.
But why, you may ask, do I deem the latter strategy delusional? Precisely because it is being condoned, sanctioned, and in some cases even carried out by Tea Party groups. This completely undermines any credibility those groups may have gained in the future as citizen watchdogs. Why? Because it sets up the “snake devouring its own tail” scenario. How can you then point out the corruption in the party that you have willingly aligned yourself with? There’s no room left in the gaping maw of the “Don’t Tread on Me” serpent to devour or even hiss at potential threats (or prey). By sactioning and publicly and actively supporting a takeover of the Republican establishment, these groups are also removing the fangs they may once have had.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I encourage activism to the fullest, and at all points on the political spectrum. Discourse leads to engagement, and having more people engaged, active, and paying attention is ultimately, and always, a good thing. And, yes, I agree that some local Republican units need to be taken over by more principled conservatives. That being said, it is NOT the job of the Tea Party movement to facilitate this. Can individual members be active in the effort? Sure. But it cannot and MUST not be officially endorsed and sanctioned by the Tea Party.
But some folks locally are even going so far as to develop strategies for this attempted takeover AT official Tea Party meetings. This must be discouraged. Again, the Tea Party’s role should be as a watchdog group, pointing out (and broadcasting LOUDLY) corruption and arrogance on the part of ALL politicians, party hacks, and establishment shills. That is the only chance we have to actually effect some real change in the political games we have, unfortunately, come to expect (and, worse, accept).