Sunday, April 18, 2010

A View From Inside The Tea Party Patriot Movement

The following blog is printed with permission from Sean Murphy, a Patriot Tea Party activist, shown below confronting a politician

There is a huge divide within the Tea Party ranks. That gap is caused in part by the lack of political experience of most people in the movement. The problem is centers around the role candidates play in all this.

There are two sides to the Patriot Tea Party coin.

Heads: There are those in the movement who believe strongly that politics is about elections. What some have called the “anger” in the movement is directed at both parties. According to this view, the problem in America is rooted in politicians who control both the Republican and Democrat parties who do what is best for their careers, not what is best for the people or what supports the Constitution.

Tails: Others believe purity and principles matter more. This wing, a clear minority in CT, feels that no candidates should be endorsed or showcased at events.

The last two major political movements in the United States -- Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the Contract with America in 1994 -- both started as top down, party directed movements within the Republican Party. The Tea Party movement began outside the usual political box. Loyalty to party is not strong in the movement; this poses a major problem. Navigating the political process is a skill learned after years of playing the political game.

Common sense does not prevail in politics. Some of us have learned this the hard way. In my own case, I naively assumed that high ranking officials in the Republican Party stood for its principles, many of them articulated during the Reagan-Gingrich years. I was wrong. It turns out I had loads of company. The political class exists for a variety of reasons: The favored members of this class use their position for financial gain or to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for power and status. From the outside looking in – which is where many Tea Party Patriots stand -- both parties appear to be social clubs, closed shops dedicated to the advancements of their credentialed members.

The Tea Party activists are going to bang up against this in a way in a surprising way in coming days. In May, the GOP will have their nominating conventions. This is where local town committees send delegates, usually picked by the entrenched town committees to choose the party endorsed candidate. The winner gets 50% plus one vote of attendees, which include a number of party establishment picked super-delegates.

The convention will certainly not pick the best candidate. They will likely pick the candidate that is either the most loyal to the party or the one that everyone thinks can win. The Tea Party activists will certainly not be happy with many winners of the convention.

From there, candidates who gets 15% of the delegates automatically can primary, the party endorsed candidate getting top billing on the ballot. In the event a potential candidate gets less, he may primary, if his delegate count reaches the proper threshold. That primary is in August.

The primaries represent Ground Zero for the Tea Party Patriot movement. They do not have sufficient party influence to secure nomination for their candidates. The best they can hope for is to influence the process to achieve some or most of what they want.

There is some Third Party chatter among Tea Party Patriot members. Those who are considering this route will never get what they want. The most dramatic example of this is the 1992 presidential election: George H.W. Bush broke his "Read My Lips" no new taxes pledge; Ross Perot was a third party candidate and Bill Clinton won with 43% of the vote. Third parties rarely achieve power. But they can and do affect major parties. What needs to happen is this: Conservatives must take over the Republican Party.

Just now in the US Senate race, McMahon is the party candidate of means. Schiff clearly is the outsider candidate most Tea Party people support. The same is true in the 4th Congressional race: Dan Debicella is the party candidate; Rob Merkle is the favorite of many in the Tea Party, and so is Rick Torres. In the 2nd, Matt Daly is the party establishment candidate; Daria Novak is the grassroots candidate.

Many within the Tea Party Patriot movement proudly consider themselves above party politics. But the problem here is that independents do not assemble party tickets. Leaving the Republican Party to the inmates that run it just guarantees lots of RINO's like Chris Shays, Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons, and Jodi Rell.

The only way to get our country back is to take it back. It will require activists to get behind and help their candidates get the nominations for various seats. The idea that Tea Party Patriots should treat all candidates as if their were unburdened by political baggage is nonsense. Some candidates are clearly not acceptable to Tea Party activists. For example, Rob Simmons now recants his former support for Card Check and Cap & Trade. Larry DiNardis, candidate for governor, was Lowell Weicker's right hand in getting the income tax passed. Liberals and repeated betrayers of conservative values and the Constitution should not, in my opinion, be given the time of day.

By Sean Murphy
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