Monday, December 14, 2009

TEA Party: Movement or Political Party?

The TEA Party movement is an amazing grassroots phenomenon that has energized Americans in every state of the Union. Ordinary citizens, Republican, Independent, Conservative and even Democrat have been inspired and provoked into standing up, speaking out and demanding that their elected officials actually represent them, instead of ignoring and even denigrating them.

However, due to frustration, anger and the misguided idea that a third party is necessary to elect fiscally responsible candidates, the TEA Party has morphed, from a grassroots movement, into a political party in it’s own right. It is now an officially recognized and registered party here in Florida where it will be one of 32 minor political parties.

It’s easy to understand the irritation and dissatisfaction with the GOP that has led some to want another party that represents fiscally conservative principles. I share much of that frustration. But the “solution” may have unintended, though very predictable, consequences. The result of this new party, if it catches on, will be to split the conservative and Republican votes and hand seats to the very liberal candidates that the TEA Partiers seek to remove.

There is a group within the movement that believes that Republicans, across the board, are just as bad as their Democrat counterparts. There is no doubt that the Republican Party as a whole has behaved more like “tax and spend” Democrats, than fiscally responsible Republicans in recent years. The GOP has paid for this behavior with huge losses in both the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. The nation has paid for their behavior with huge spending and deficits that make the Bush administration look almost responsible.

Beyond the out of control spending of the Obama Administration and the Reid/Pelosi ruled Congress, the legislation we’ve seen coming from the Progressives in charge has been all about growing government and increasing it’s impact on the day-to-day lives of every American. Cap and Tax, so-called healthcare reform, “Cash for Clunkers”, the trillion dollar stimulus and other legislation being pushed by those currently in the majority are all about power and keeping power for the Democrats and their union allies at the expense of future generations.

Many conservatives want to “clean house” in 2010, literally replacing every member of Congress. This is an unattainable, and in this author’s opinion, irresponsible goal. We know that some members of Congress, like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, are in districts that are so liberal and/or progressive that it would be virtually impossible to unseat them. In addition, there are some GOP members of Congress, like Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence and Jim DeMint that have remembered their conservative principles and more importantly that the law of our republic is still the Constitution.

Some who favor the TEA Party becoming a political party point to the recent election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District as an example of what a third party can accomplish. What these well meaning people ignore is the fact that even with a Republican candidate as liberal as Dede Scozzafava was, chosen in a backroom by Party bosses and who ultimately dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat candidate, the Conservative still candidate lost.

While the frustration that inspired this new political party is understandable and justified, it has led to an ill-conceived and ill-advised transformation of the TEA Party movement into a political party in Florida, that instead of electing more fiscally responsible candidates, may split conservative votes and save or create dozens of liberal/progressive election victories.