What’s Wrong with the Tea Party?

February 7th, 2013

By Dan Miller

Let’s have a (tea) party!

Mad hatter pours tea

Is this the establishment view of conservatives?

The main problems are Republican leadership views as reflected in their actions and statements, media portrayals coupled with dejection sometimes leading to lethargy following last year’s presidential election debacle and a sense of lost direction.

Notice US dies

And, of course, there is no conservative (small c) party. Instead, we are factions generally sprinkled around in a “mainstream” party that rejects our substantive input (money is welcome, ideas and candidates are not).

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the “biggest donors in the Republican Party” have joined forces with Karl Rove and Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, to create the Conservative Victory Project. The Times reports that this new group will dedicate itself to “recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s effort to win control of the Senate.” The group points to candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Richard Mourdock in Indiana as examples of Tea Party primary picks going sideways in major Senatorial battles.

But it is American Crossroads and its ilk that have run the GOP into the ground. Spending millions of dollars on useless 30,000-ft. advertising campaigns during the last election cycle, training candidates to soften conservatism in order to appeal to “moderates,” blowing up the federal budget under George W. Bush as a bipartisan tactic – all of those strategies led the party to a disastrous defeat in 2012. The Tea Party, which may nominate losers from time to time, also brought the Republicans their historic 2010 Congressional victory. If Tea Party candidates lose, it’s because they weren’t good candidates; if GOP establishment candidates lose, it’s because they weren’t good conservatives. The choice for actual conservatives should be easy.

But it isn’t. The Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama insists that they, and only they, know the path to victory. As the Times reports, Conservative Victory Project won’t merely protect incumbents – it will challenge sitting Congresspeople of the Tea Party variety, including six-term Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who may run for Senate. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law told the Times – with whom he seems far too friendly. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”

Here’s an excerpt from article at Townhall entitled “I Love Karl Rove!


Over the weekend well-funded Republicans announced an effort to protect Senate incumbents from Tea Party challengers, such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The “architect” behind the plan is establishment titan Karl Rove, the man who choreographed the steady erosion of conservative policies under the eight years of George W. Bush and contributed to GOP election disasters ever since. Which begs the question: why does anyone listen to Karl Rove and his cohorts anymore?

Unfortunately,there are a number of people in the Republican Party, including many donors, who do. That’s the problem. If we keep listening to them, we’re going to lose another presidential election

The current conventional wisdom in Washington is that the tea party is responsible for Republican defeats. But consider that under establishment-backed candidates, from George H.W. Bush to Bob Dole to Mitt Romney, Republicans have failed to win a majority of the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. What these candidates shared, besides establishment backing, was the complete lack of a coherent political philosophy. That made it easy for the opposition to paint them any way they chose. And circling around every one of those disasters were professional consultants like Mr. Rove.

In 2012, Rove’s political machine, American Crossroads, poached almost $80 million from donors across America in order to lose [nearly]every single race in which they were engaged.

Ben Howe at Red State reviewed the conservative opposition generated Mr. Rove’s ploy and wrote

there are a lot of people telling me to give him and his partners the benefit of the doubt. That this isn’t them declaring war on the grassroots but is simply a group of conservatives trying to figure out the best way to effect change.

If that’s true, then my advice is only compounded. Is their group so horrible at messaging that they couldn’t even roll out this announcement without enraging their base?

The truth is, I’d rather not spend the next 2 years fighting people that are supposed to be on our side. I’d rather spend that time crafting messages that espouse our believes (sic) in a way that doesn’t make people grab buckets of tar and bags of feathers.

We should be seeking candidates together, not tearing each other apart. With a skeptical eye, I look forward to seeing how Rove’s group intends on working with the rest of us to win for conservatism. I wish I were more optimistic.


Karl RoveIs there a “Conservative Victory Project?” That all depends on the meaning of “is” and “sex” “conservative.” There is lots of misleading verbiage these days. My Librul colleague Senator Ima Librul, D. Utopia, recently wrote about some of it. Victor Davis Hanson explains more about the nature of the current narrative in The New Age of Falsity. Please read it all. Here are just a few excerpts:

We live in an age of falsity, in which words have lost their meanings and concepts are reinvented as the situation demands. The United States is in a jobless recovery — even if that phrase largely disappeared from the American lexicon about 2004. Good news somehow must follow from a rising unemployment rate, which itself underrepresents the actual percentage of Americans long out of work.

At the same time, we are supposed to be relieved that we are in a contracting expansion, where fewer goods and services are proof of a resilient economy. In our debt-ridden revival, borrowing $1 trillion each year is evidence that we don’t have a spending problem.

…and three other Americans were murdered, ostensibly because of an anti-Muslim video whose producer still languishes in jail in California. The party line was that Libyan demonstrators, irate over that Internet production and out for a walk one evening, brought along their GPS-guided mortars and machine guns to spice up a demonstration at our consulate. Things can always get out of hand, when a right-wing chauvinist makes a hurtful video. In this age of fakery, what is legitimate dissent? Is it Hillary Clinton attacking an administration in 2003 (“I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic…. We have the right to debate and disagree with any administration”) or Hillary Clinton nine years later, as an administration insider, turning on her interrogators in an effort to deflect inquiry (e.g., “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”)?

Did her brilliant question, “what difference at this point does it make” so mesmerize mainstream Republicans that that they no longer care about what happened to the late lamented Mr. Ghazi or whomever it was? About what happened to the nation? That’s all in the past and we can’t do anything about it now and besides, if mistakes were made everybody makes them. Live and let die live! Or something.

Do we just want to forget the past and move forward to the dawn of a bright new day in which hardly anything matters because all are buddies and in which the future belongs to Islam? What difference could it make? Do conservatives, as distinguished from the Republican leadership, find that sort of thing distasteful? I think so, and if we do that can make a difference — a big difference — but only if we reject foul tasting crap instead of swallowing it.

An article at The Western Center for Journalism argues that

Republicans have become the Democrats’ lackeys and Judas goats, whose main job is to lead unwitting Republican voters into the liberals’ slaughter pens. Given reports that Eric Cantor wants the Republican rank and file to see that “Government Can Be Good, Too,” Karl Rove has announced his intention to pick our candidates; and state level Republicans have run away from any hint of changing the Electoral College vote distribution in their states, making it clear that Republicans cannot be trusted with our future.

These people are more concerned with what the New York Times and Debbie Wasserman Schultz has to say about them than the well-being of the suckers that elect them. Elected and celebrated Republicans have become indistinguishable from the nice little old church lady who uses her position as the bookkeeper to steal money from the weekly collections. When we hear these stories, our trust in them is shattered; and we are insulted on many levels. They rub our noses in the stark reality that we now have no one to speak for us. We have no champions of freedom to look to as trusted protectors.

Extreme? I could argue that it is (I’m a recovering attorney and can therefore argue nearly anything) but won’t because I think it is a good summation of the problem.

This article by Barry Rubin contends that

Americans often seem to find conflict to be unnatural and in the well-ordered society they [Americans or conflicts?] wouldn’t exist, everyone would be rich and happy. Thus, at least as its being presented today, conflict is a matter of mean, selfish people who just don’t have the right ideas. (Query added.)

So why shouldn’t all conservatives just try to fit in, be nice and not argue? That would not be good for the country, but then if America is not a good country it doesn’t matter. She must not be a good country, because there is an increasingly predominant view that our history has always been so horrid that it offers nothing about which to be proud and everything about which to be ashamed.

Mr. Rubin continues his analysis with a poem I still remember listening to Mr. Frost recite while I was in college, shortly before his death in 1963:

One of the highlights of the 1961 inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, 52 years ago, was a poem by the beloved Robert Frost. That morning I had watched the new vice-president, Lyndon Johnson, leave his home down the street and a bit later watched Frost read the poem on television that snowy day, looking at the same snow outside my window a few miles away.

The poem was entitled, “The Gift Outright,” and it began:

“The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials….”

That poem could not be read today and if it were the result would be attacks, condemnation, and derision.

Mr. Rubin’s article explains why, and properly indicts our current national self-loathing. He concludes that

The main theme is that America has been unfair, racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, a bully in the world, an oppressor of its own working class, etc. And of course it stole the land from the original inhabitants.

That country certainly sounds like a disaster. Why did its people even bother to continue such a failed experiment? Clearly it must be fundamentally transformed, no doubt.

Has that self-loathing infected the mainstream Republican Party? If not, why does it refuse to stand up for principle — the basics — more often? I wrote about the Basics here, back in March of 2010:

The tea party movement is remarkably diverse but united on only a few extraordinarily important goals: respect for the United States Constitution, America’s safety, and freedom to the extent possible from governmental meddling. These basic goals are the principal distinguishing factors. In other respects, as noted by Lloyd Marcus:

the feelings, thoughts, and opinions of tea party patriots are all over the place. What a mess! Well, I say, how wonderful! I mean, think about it. Millions of Americans who have been passively watching our country slipping away for years are suddenly passionately seeking to restore it. So frankly, I do not care if the movement is a bit wild and free. Scott Brown’s shocking, historic win in Massachusetts confirms that we are making a huge difference.

If subsumed by the mainstream Republican Party or if it loses sight of the basics, the tea party movement will probably be a flash in the pan. Otherwise, it augurs an incipient groundswell. Ditto Governor Palin; Senator Brown, and Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Florida senatorial nomination. They unite on only the few critical goals and do not speak with a monolithic voice, nor should they; their supporters certainly do not. At best, trying to do so leads to mediocrity. We have seen that in both of the major political parties, and we have seen the consequences for the United States. Fortunately, nobody leads the tea party movement now. (Emphasis added.)

Now, three years later, is the Republican Party becoming indistinguishable from the Democrat party in its leanings? Is it on its way to becoming part of a leftist American “Blame America First” psyche as taught in some of our schools?

Remember when we went in our backyard and played? Climbed trees? Played baseball? Now, kids go to school in America and learn how to be Communists.

Here’s an explanation from the link at the article:

Nagara wrote “A is for Activist,” a book supposedly geared for the children of the “99 percent.” In other words, a new vehicle has been developed for leftists to begin indoctrinating children.

“It’s pretty awesome to hear a three-year-old saying ‘union power,’” Nagara said in a YES! magazine interview.

But union power and student activism aren’t the only goals. Consider these other letters and how they are applied in the book:

  • B is for banner, as in a protest banner hanging off a construction crane
  • L is for LGBTQ, as in Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered and Queer
  • T is for Trans, as in transgendered
  • Z is for Zapatistas, as in Mexican revolutionary leftists

What a great way to educate our children for their future; unless, of course, we don’t want that to be their future and prevent it.

Here’s another great way to understand how our Government has to function:

It must be comforting to have a daddy like President Obama, because he and his people will take good care of us. From the Government, they just want to help.

An article at GOP USA contends,

[T]here is a clash at the heart of today’s Republican Party. The Tea Party wants to change tactics. The establishment wants to discard principle. (Emphasis added.)

The question is whether this will be the party of Ronald Reagan or the party of George W. Bush. The establishment opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980; they backed George H.W. Bush, convinced that Reagan was too extreme, not quick enough on his feet, no match for the more intellectual Jimmy Carter. Thank God they lost.

Today, though, the establishment is ascendant. While George W. Bush did a great many good things, including slashing taxes and protecting Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, the second term of George W. Bush looked like a replay of Herbert Hoover’s government-growing presidency, replete with concessions on spending and socialistic stimulus programs. The “compassionate conservatism,” which largely identified government spending with compassion, dovetailed into the rise of Barack Obama.

This divide doesn’t have to continue. The establishment GOP could seek to rectify the breach with the Tea Party by embracing their enthusiasm for basic conservative principle and offering their expertise — whatever expertise they have — in helping them achieve victory. Instead, they’re focusing on the next dollar and the next dinner party.

I suspect that mainstream Republican establishment (tagging obediently along behind the mainstream media in hopes of an occasional bite of the Kibble normally reserved for Democrats) has already come too close to adopting Democrat principles as their own for the Republican Party to acknowledge, much less willingly assist, their red haired Tea Party bastards. That would require leaving their own comfort zones, a frightening thought.

President Ronald Reagan

With that, Happy 102nd Birthday, President Reagan. The linked Power Line article quotes from a 1964 article he wrote for National Review, with a couple of points emphasized.

By now a new cliché has been added to the time-worn lit, but I know of no other way of comment on the election than to open with the by now familiar — “Well, it’s over and we lost.”

Yes, we did; we lost a battle in the continuing war for freedom, but our position is not untenable….

Are reinforcements available? The answer is an unhesitating — “Yes!” They are to be found in the millions of so-called Republican defectors — those people who didn’t really want LBJ, but who were scared of what they thought we represented. Read that sentence very carefully because in my opinion it tells the story. All of the landslide majority did not vote against the conservative philosophy; they voted against a false image our Liberal opponents successfully mounted. Indeed it was a double false image. Not only did they portray us as advancing a kind of radical departure from the status quo, but they took for themselves a costume of comfortable conservatism. Read again their campaign fiction and you will find their normal flamboyant Liberalism hidden under the protective coloration of “the great society,” or as Hubert Horatio Humphrey (who can’t ask what time it is without conducting a filibuster) put it: “We don’t want a planned society — we want society planning.”

Unfortunately, human nature resists change and goes over backward to avoid radical change. It’s a head shaker, I know, but the whole Liberal apparatus which can be quoted ad infinitum on “the wave of the future, the need for new approaches to old problems, adopt new rules for complex new problems, forget the Constitution,” was able to campaign in a last-year’s model, singing, “The old songs — the old songs are good enough for me.”

Do we have another Ronald Reagan? Will we? I don’t know. If the Conservative Victory Project has its way we may never find out.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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