Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tea Party Pooper

This last weekend Nashville hosted the first national “Tea Party” convention. Admittedly, the activities of the Tea Party movement over the last several months has given me hope that some in our country truly know and feel that our country no longer resembles the country that we all grew up in, much less the country our founding fathers worked so hard to forge. Make no mistake, the Tea Party movement is not merely a rejection of the Obama administration; it is a rejection of national politics since 1990.

Many are finally awakening to the fact that the even their beloved republican party has long since abandoned the principles that created the most superior form of government in world history; Tea Principles such state’s rights, that government should be as local as possible; separation of powers—that each branch of the government has a constitutionally designated role which must not be usurped by, or delegated to another branch of the government; namely, that the legislative branch creates the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the laws.

Other principles such as a belief in the power of the free market, the primacy of the individual over the state, the primacy of the state over the federal government, the primacy of the United States over “the international community”, the primacy of the rule of law over short term expediency, and the need for a moral and virtuous culture, are but a few of a host of principles that the Tea Partiers see as wholly lacking in our present form of government.

The problem with the Tea Party movement is that it lacks leadership and coherent policy goals. If the Tea Party is going to remain on the "outside of Washington", it needs leadership and views that are "outside of Washington." I was somewhat encouraged that the convention invited Tom Tancredo to speak. I felt he was fairly independent when he ran last election cycle. However, I was very disappointed to see Sarah Palin was asked to be the keynote speaker.

Sarah Palin just got done being a running mate with one of the most progressive, big government republicans ever to run for President. Indeed, I would agree with Tancredo's statement, made at the convention: "Thank God John McCain lost the election." The organizer of the Tea Party convention, Judson Phillips, agreed: "I think a McCain presidency would have been far worse than Bush one or Bush two. I think it would have been a total disaster. I think we would have gotten the worst of what we are getting in the Obama administration and really nothing positive from what would have been allegedly be a conservative party, or allegedly be a conservative leader."

But this begs the question, if the organizer of the Tea Party convention is glad that McCain lost, why did he invite Sarah Palin, who was his running mate, to be the keynote speaker? Does he, and others, really think Sarah Palin is that different from McCain? Actually, the more appropriate question is probably, “what DOES Sarah Palin believe?” I submit to you that she doesn’t really know. Sarah Palin is whatever you want her to be, and that’s the problem.

I have no doubt that Sarah Palin has conservative instincts; but instincts are simply not enough to be a leader for conservatives, and more importantly, the country at large; it takes a fully formed political philosophy which can be employed in developing a coherent platform of policies.

Her lack of a principled political philosophy was apparent by her “keynote” speech; when asked what she felt were the most important areas of policy, Palin had to first look down at her hand where she (or her political advisor) had written them. That Sarah Palin has to speak from her hand instead of her heart and/or mind should be a serious concern for anyone touting her leadership in any national capacity.

This is not a time in America where we need more rhetoric or slogans. We’ve had 20 years of it folks! If the Tea Party movement is serious about making a return to principles of federalism, separation of powers, and small government, Sarah Palin is NOT the kind of leadership that is needed to make that happen.

“But if not Sarah Palin, then who?” the Tea Party convention might have asked. As much as he was derided and rejected by republicans last election cycle, Ron Paul is literally the only national figure that is proved to actually be serious about the ideals that Tea Partiers espouse. Ron Paul has proven throughout his 35 year public service career that he is dedicated to founding era philosophy.

However, my point in writing this is not to endorse Ron Paul to be de facto leader of the Tea Party movement. Rather, I guess I am merely voicing my skepticism that the Tea Party movement will actually lead to any form of a return to founding principles. The republican party is waiting with baited breath to snatch up all of the followers that have disaffected to the Tea Party movement. And believe me, when that happens, that will be the end of the movement. Nothing could be worse for the Tea Party than to be smothered by the feckless, wet blanket of the GOP. And this last weekend when the convention charged $550 a ticket see Sarah Palin leads me to believe that it won’t be long before the Tea Party is ushered back into the republican party.

Some might say that the movement will serve the purpose of pushing the republican party back to the right. But needless to say, I have my doubts. The republicans won’t go nearly as far to the right as the Tea Partiers will be forced to the left. The moral of this story? The time is right for the creation of a third party.