Monday, September 20, 2010
Tea Party Power
By Alan Caruba
America is chockablock with some very smart people, if only the ones in charge would pay them some attention. One of them is Peggy Noonan who writes a weekly commentary for The Wall Street Journal. She came to public attention as a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, coining his “thousand points of light” phrase.
Unlike the vast majority of political pundits, Noonan “gets” what the Tea Party movement is all about. Writing in the September 18 edition, she examined the tug of war between conservative and liberal legislators in Congress, with the liberal side always gaining more when the rest of us on the sidelines have wanted both Democrats and Republicans to STOP spending money and start reducing the size of a government run amuck.
The other factor is the increasing urgency of the times in which we live. She wrote, “Here’s the great virtue of the tea party; They know what time it is. It’s getting late. If we don’t get the size and cost of government in line now, we won’t be able to. We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark, new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too.”
“The issue isn’t ‘big spending’ anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.”
In short, the Tea Party movement is us!
That’s “us” as in conservatives, people who go to church; small business owners; people who love both college and professional football, NASCAR and other sports; people who think abortion is murder; gun owners; people who worked all their lives and can’t get by on Social Security and who know, even with Medicare, any serious illness will financially destroy them; people raising children today who wonder if there will be any Social Security when they retire—if they can retire; people worried about what their kids are learning in school and what they are not being taught about U.S. history and civics.
In my state, New Jersey, Democrat to the core, these people, despite their party affiliation, put Chris Christie into office as Governor. Last week he addressed a conference of firefighters, greeted initially by some boos, but in the end, they crowded around him like he was a rock star, all eager to shake his hand. He hadn’t backed down an inch from his demand that government service union members begin to contribute more to their pension and healthcare funds. He bluntly told them, “we’re doing this now so there will be a pension fund ten years from now.” They knew he was right.
After a misstep or two, the Republican National Party got the primary elections message. They back Miller in Alaska, O’Donnell in Delaware, and Angle in Nevada. The inside-the-beltway crowd have, excuse the pun, read the tea leaves!
Ultimately, this leads political wonks and onlookers to ask whether Sarah Palin will take a run at the GOP nomination for president. There is no question that she has confounded a lot of people, myself included, who were ready to write her off as an anomaly, an unknown Governor of Alaska selected to be, of all things, the GOP candidate for Vice President.
I think that, once the midterm elections determine how much power in Congress shifts to from the Democrat to the Republican Party and how well the GOP puts into action the expectations and demands of the Tea Party movement, neither Palin, nor anyone else will know what her decision will be.
This nation has already experimented with electing a charismatic candidate for President, a man about whom little was actually known, and who has demonstrated how spectacularly ill-prepared and unprepared he was for the job.
I am inclined to think that, consciously or not, when it comes to a presidential candidate the Tea Party voters are going to be looking for substantial experience and, perhaps more importantly, a proven record of belief and action that reflect traditional conservative values.
First, though, a Republican Congress will need to do some immediate heavy-lifting, repealing or at least defunding Obamacare, making it clear that Cap-and-Trade is dead, cracking down on a rogue EPA, stopping amnesty proposals, and letting it be known that any unspent billions in bailout programs should be returned to the national treasury to reduce the debt.
After that, the 2012 national elections will take care of themselves and the Tea Party movement may have reinvigorated the GOP, creating a coalition of independents and even disaffected Democrats that may yet save this nation from ruin. The last time that happened Ronald Reagan got elected.
© Alan Caruba, 2010