By Roy C. Jones
View this editorial at LibertyAlliance.com
“Don’t come in here with that Tea Party crap,” said one GOP unit chairman at a public gathering of more than 50 Republican members and guests, “you guys think you are perfect… the only ones who understand the constitution and what it means to be conservative. You quote Ronald Reagan, don’t you know that Ronald Reagan raised taxes when he was in California. I do NOT want to hear anymore about the Tea Party. Don’t start that stuff in here…”
Well, I have just about had it with “GOP officials” who continue the verbal attacks against Tea Party supporters. Demeaning the movement which has been driving America back to the right seems counter-intuitive at best.
To be candid, I was stunned. How could any Republican, never the less, a GOP city chairman dismiss both Ronald Reagan and the movement that has helped his party with huge victories over the last 90 days in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts?
I do not know this GOP official’s motivation for the outburst, but I suspect it has a great deal to do with the pressure created by the Tea Party movement on GOP leaders. Make no mistake about it; Tea Party events have bolstered the back bone to rank-in-file Republicans who have had enough of RINO’s (Republicans In Name Only). Rank-In-File-Republicans today are the first to acknowledge that it was the “philosophical drift” away from Reagan’s GOP core principles (beginning with George W. Bush’s spending and culminating with the candidacy of Senator John McCain) that propelled Barrack Obama into the White House.
Of course, I am sure there must be resentment by some GOP leaders. How could a ragtag band of grass-roots conservatives, millions strong and fiercely motivated, with no national leader, have such a dramatic impact on local elections is such a short period of time?
The Washington Times reported last week that leading figures in the “tea party” have complained of being ignored by the Republican National Committee, despite having already shown their clout in taking down moderate Republicans in a New York special House race and the Florida Republican Party hierarchy.
“I have called into the RNC many times, and they still haven’t called me back,” said Dale Robertson, head of TeaParty.org, which he claims has upwards of 7 million members. “I’ve called them, lots of times. I called them this morning. I called them yesterday. It’s like they ignore you as they try to figure out a strategy on how to defeat you.”
Several other tea party activists talked of a similar lack of communication, despite an NBC-Wall Street Journal survey last month that just 28 percent of voters had a positive view of Republicans, compared with 35 percent for Democrats and 41 percent who report positive feelings about the tea party movement.
Not all Republican officials are hostile to the burgeoning “tea party” movement. In a recent meeting with conservatives in Richmond, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins said that it is critical that Republicans embrace “the Tea Party folks.” The grandfatherly GOP chair, knows something about building winning coalitions. Over the last 18 months he almost single handedly pulled together a fractured state Party that helped contribute to the VA gubernatorial victory.
“I view the Tea Party as very important. We have to treat them as family. Just like at a family reunion or a holiday meal. We need to make an extra seat and the table and welcome them to the family,” concluded Mullins.
Last week former Speaker Newt Gingrich weighed in and said, “It’s important for Republicans to recognize they can only be a majority if they find a way to absorb the tea party movement and absorb the anger against Washington and against big government.”
The recent resignation of Florida Republican state party Chairman Jim Greer was also seen as in part as a tea party victory. Mr. Greer was closely linked to moderate Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is locked in a tight Senate primary duel with conservative favorite Marco Rubio, the former speaker of the Florida House.
“Everywhere I go around the country, I talk with tea party leaders, and I think it’s absolutely imperative for Republicans and tea party people to find common ground,” Mr. Gingrich said.
In Massachusetts, state Sen. Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate bid highlights the strength a unified front poses even in Democratic strongholds. Both Tea Partiers and the Republican establishment are feverishly working to help Mr. Brown stun the political world by winning the Senate seat held for more than 4½ decades by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died in August.
The pressure on GOP local leaders to embrace the Tea Party movement is moving across the country. In Virginia the GOP’s 5th district Congressional primary for the right to challenge liberal Democrat Tom Perriello has turned into a referendum over whether a Republican can when without Tea Party support.
According to the Washington Post, “Republican leaders in Virginia are backing a moderate state lawmaker, Sen. Robert Hurt, whose record enrages many conservatives, including a disparate band of Tea Party activists. To them, Hurt is not a real conservative because of his past support for tax increases, and they’re promising a third-party challenge if he wins the nomination.”
Of course, Tea Party leaders understand that elections in the US are often won because the opposition divides and third party candidates either run or so alienate voters that they stay home.
Lynchburg Tea Party activists are disappointed that Republican candidate for Virginia’s 5thCongressional District, State Senator Robert Hurt, has cancelled his appearance at the first of three Tea Party Debates in Charlottesville, VA.
“Mr. Hurt gave me a commitment on the phone just after Thanksgiving,” said Mark Lloyd of the Lynchburg Tea Party, and organizer of the VA 5th District Tea Party Debates.
“We had a pleasant conversation and checked the calendar together,” Lloyd explained, adding, “Mr. Hurt told me that date should work since it was early in the legislative session, that things would get difficult for him after that. We agreed to hold the first of the three Tea Party Debates in Charlottesville so Mr. Hurt would be able to travel from Richmond easily. I really thought we had a deal. We’re very disappointed in his decision.”
Lloyd said his group had “worked really hard to create a public forum for the candidates to lay out their vision for the voters in the 5th district.”
Lloyd continued, “We regret that Mr. Hurt won’t be there to explain his positions on the issues — especially his controversial tax votes in Richmond that so many of our members are concerned about. We will have an open chair for him, just in case he can work us into his schedule.”
In 2004, Robert Hurt voted for the biggest tax increase in Virginia history. Senator Hurt was one of our 15 Republicans in the state house to support the $1.5 billion tax hike.
Roger Schweikert of the Jefferson Area Tea Party of Charlottesville said “Virginians, like people for all across the country are tired of this sort of game playing from professional politicians.”
“Mr. Hurt is making a mistake. The Tea Party movement is growing in the 5th district and all over the country, and to not make himself available may really hurt him in the upcoming primary and election,” said Nigel Coleman of the Danville Tea Party Patriots.
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