In Defense of the Tea Party
It never ceases to amaze how the media can get a story so wrong.
Just this week, ABC’s Good Morning America discussed how the Republican Party was now unified after “raucous” primaries, specifically when Tea Party candidates challenged the Establishment.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, some of the Party faithful have come together after the primary season, for they understand what’s at stake for the GOP this November. For them, the idea is to win a generation, not an election. America is at a crossroads, and whoever gains control of Congress will decide who knows best: government or the people.
But for many in the Establishment, it’s not, nor has it ever been, about issues. Instead, it’s much more self-serving: power for the sake of holding on to power.
And it’s about being part of the Club, where there are two sets of rules: one for themselves and one for everyone else.
Ironically, it’s the Tea Party that has been criticized for “hijacking” the Republican Party, and for not working within the parameters of the GOP. That movement, and its candidates, have received considerable flak, being labeled “extremist” and being blamed for jeopardizing Republican victories in the general election.
While there are scattered Tea Partiers running third-party candidates in the general election, by far the greatest threat to Republican success comes from Establishment Republicans who fared poorly in the primaries. [SIGNUP]
These losers love to characterize themselves as “moderate,” a label they want to connote common sense and pragmatism. The reality is that “moderate,” in the truest sense, applies to those with no convictions, or worse, to those who abandoned their principles long ago for the sake of holding on to elected office.
There is a far more apropos term: hypocrite.
In most election cycles, these people emerged victorious in primary elections, and in doing so, they expected the endorsement of their vanquished rivals. And usually received it.
But there’s a new sheriff in the Republican Party now, and the Establishment doesn’t like it, so much so that it is willing to sacrifice the growth of the Party for purely selfish reasons.
And this isn’t a localized irregularity, but a concerted effort nationwide to keep the Tea Partiers — READ: common sense Americans demanding accountability — from achieving success.
In this regard, perhaps the best known hypocrite is Congressman Mike Castle who has adamantly refused to endorse the Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell after she beat him in the primary. His reason? She was mean to him, hurt his feelings, and ran a dirty campaign.
Translation: O’Donnell exposed Castle’s ultra-liberal voting record.
But Castle isn’t alone in his contempt for O’Donnell and her supporters. Top strategist Karl Rove continues to openly criticize O’Donnell, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a statement on election night that it would be sitting out the Delaware race. While the NRSC did an about-face, you can just imagine how passionately it will intervene on O’Donnell’s behalf.
Castle’s effort to derail O’Donnell not only seriously jeopardizes the GOP’s attempt to win the Senate, but is a direct affront to the Party that served him so well for his nearly half-a-century in political office. How’s that for loyalty?
But it doesn’t stop in Delaware.
In Alaska, defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski not only won’t endorse winner Joe Miller, but she is actively waging a write-in campaign against him. About the only thing Murkowski can accomplish by her selfish act is to hand the seat to the Democrats — helping them maintain control of the Senate.
In Utah, Senator Bob Bennett didn’t make it past his state Party’s nominating convention, but he also didn’t play ball, threatening his own write-in campaign after his loss.
The Florida Senate race, one of the most crucial in the nation for the GOP, should have been a relatively easy win, but Governor Charlie Crist has thrown a wrench in the mix. Crist, a former Republican, saw his poll numbers dropping and decided to run as an Independent against GOP rising star Marco Rubio.
Rubio, campaigning on the traditional Republican platform, stood a much better chance to win in November, but Crist, rather than do the right thing and back Rubio, has energized the Democrats by giving them an opening that shouldn’t be there. Because of Crist’s action, there exists the possibility that Florida Republicans may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
And let’s not forget the GOP suicide tactics occurring in the biggest battleground state of all — Pennsylvania. No, we’re not talking about Arlen Specter. Give the senator credit. Rather than going Independent in the fall against Pat Toomey, Specter saw the writing on the wall, realized the Republican Party wasn’t for him, and switched.
Interestingly, the biggest potential derailer of the Republican effort is the so-called “conservative” Sam Rohrer. The 18-year state representative and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate has refused to endorse Attorney General and GOP nominee Tom Corbett.
Worse still, Rohrer has tacitly endorsed an organized write-in campaign for his candidacy, which, in a close election, could well prove decisive.
Why would Rohrer do something that could only lead to a Democrat taking over the governorship? Good question. The answer seems rooted in either personal animosity or sour grapes, but it’s most certainly NOT because of Corbett’s Republican credentials.
Any way you slice it, Corbett is more conservative than Rohrer, whose entire campaign was based on he being a “constitutional conservative” with an undying loyalty to limited government and personal responsibility.
Which sounded great, of course, except that it wasn’t true. When push came to shove, and Rohrer was forced to take a stand on the important issues, he blew it.
In a nearly two-decade career, he spearheaded no significant legislation. Ironically, his most telltale vote was one in favor of a secretive, middle-of-the-night pay raise (in a deal with the now indicted former Speaker John Perzel).
Since the legislators took the increase immediately, as “unvouchered expense” money, it was blatantly unconstitutional.
So much for his “constitutional conservative” credentials.
Not to be outdone, the “conservative” Rohrer also voted for the huge pension grab, which, in addition to boosting his lucrative lifelong pension, is the biggest factor in Pennsylvania’s pending fiscal Armageddon.
In contrast, Corbett has steadfastly promoted his: no-new-tax pledge, dedication to school choice, continued crackdown on corruption, the opening of Pennsylvania’s vast natural gas fields, and resolve to dramatically cut spending, regardless of the political consequences.
Rohrer’s actions are nothing but a pathetic attempt to stay relevant and posture himself with a significance he never had.
When conservative presidential nominee Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford, did he run third party? No. But when “moderate” Congressman John Anderson wasn’t successful in the 1980 GOP primary, he challenged Reagan, and with his seven percent, almost erased the Reagan legacy before it began.
Likewise, were moderates George H.W. Bush and John McCain challenged by the conservative wing in the general election? No.
The most disconcerting aspect of today’s GOP is that many criticize Barack Obama and the Democrats at the drop of a hat, even when it’s unwarranted, but so few openly criticize the Establishment when it attempts to destroy candidates who earned their nomination fair and square — in accordance with the Party’s own rules!
Bottom line: the GOP is better off cleansing itself of individuals who care more about themselves, their pensions and their power grabs than adhering to the principles of the Republican Party.
Despite headlines that Tea Party candidates and their supporters are radical and extremist, the truth is that most rank-and-file Tea Partiers simply advocate adhering to the Republican platform: Cracking down on illegal immigration, reining in out-of-control government spending, finding free market solutions to the health care crisis, lowering citizens’ tax burden, and resurrecting America’s manufacturing base.
Agree with those ideas or not, the Tea Party is simply “towing the line” of the Republican Party platform. In most cases, when a Tea Party candidate loses a primary, he works within the framework of the Party to ensure a Republican victory.
But the same cannot be said of the Establishment types who believe more in coronations than elections.
Hopefully, true Republicans will send a message next month that they won’t be duped by the selfish tactics of sore losers who only care about one thing: themselves.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.” Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on the Philadelphia-area talk radio show, Political Talk (WCHE 1520), and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX 29. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com.