August 12, 2022

The GOP and the Tea Party – Part 1

The GOP and the Tea Party are in danger of forming a circle and opening fire on each other–sadly, forming the proverbial circular firing squad one hears so much discussed among the punditry. While there may be good reason for each side to think it appropriate to open fire on the other, such fire can only deplete our ranks, send low/no information voters scurrying for cover, give our mutual opponents ideological ammunition to use against us, split the Constitutional Conservative vote, and hand an easy victory to those seeking to destroy (i.e., “fundamentally transform”) our country.

          This should never have started, cannot continue, and putting an end to it must be our mutual goal. The stakes are too high, the danger too imminent, and our time is too short. Both sides must ask and answer the following questions, “Do you want to win, or merely score rhetorical points?” “Are you only willing to work with those whose politics are ideologically identical with yours, or are you willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this battle with those with whom you are in substantial but not total accord?” “Is it more important to you that you receive all the credit for an idea, strategy, or tactic, than it is to succeed by sharing the spotlight with others?” Consider your answers carefully. Your future, your children’s future, and your grandchildren’s future all depend on your response.

          The Tea Party and the GOP are behaving like rival siblings, and if we are not all careful, we will destroy the family and be as responsible as Obama for its demise. Before either my GOP friends or my Tea Party friends decide to start chastising me for saying so, please keep in mind that passionate debate on the merits is always appropriate; vituperation, pettiness, whining, name-calling, pusillanimity, and scatological language are not.

          If the GOP wants to win elections, it must court the Tea Party. It cannot do so in a haphazard, slap-dash, I’ll-call-you-if-I-need-you fashion. It cannot call on the Tea Party’s help only at election time, it must seek the Tea Party’s advice and counsel at all times. And, the GOP must take seriously the advice it receives. I am not asking or recommending that the GOP check in with the Tea Party before voting on each piece of legislation. I am asking, recommending, and perhaps even demanding, that the GOP and the Tea Party meet regularly to discuss the principles that must guide the actions of both.

          There can be no cooperation between the two organizations worthy of the name until agreement is reached on the principles that must guide every vote, every position paper, every policy recommendation, and every piece of legislation into which we pour our efforts, our money, and our time. If we do so, we can permanently change the course of each state and of the federal government, can return the nation to the vision of the Founders, and guarantee for our posterity the blessings of freedom.

          I have been asked why the Tea Party is so angry with the GOP. While I do not intend in my answer to go into specifics in voluminous detail, or to rehearse every instance in which there appeared to be a retreat from principle into mere politics, I will set forth below my general observations as to the causes of that anger. I must note that these observations are my own; and in setting them forth, I do not pretend to speak for, except in the broadest and most general sense, anyone other than myself.

          1)       Principle, Principle, Principle:  I think it is fair to say that nothing is more important to members of the Tea Party movement than that politicians say what they mean, mean what they say, and act accordingly. There can be no more saying one thing while campaigning, and then doing something else once in office. That behavior pattern may have worked with an electorate both disengaged and uninformed, but it will not work with those involved in the Tea Party movement who are both informed and engaged–and who are absolutely committed to the cause.

                    The “say one thing to get elected/do another to become a member of the ‘old boys club’”, is, however, more symptom than cause. The underlying disease is the lack of bedrock principles by which the Party’s or the candidate’s/politician’s actions can be clearly seen to be the yardstick against which they are to be measured. An unswerving and unyielding dedication to principle; a refusal to be swayed by public opinion polls, bad press, or the commentariat. Steadfastness in pursuit of those principles is what is needed—in fact, absolutely required—if the GOP and the Tea Party movement are to work together.

                    Please do not misunderstand me on this point. I do not claim to be infallible, nor do I claim to be omniscient. Further, I have never met a single person who is either of those things (though I believe in the One who was both). Therefore, I am always ready and willing to negotiate on tactics, to be shown a better way to engage the electorate in support of bedrock principles, to discover an approach I have not considered.

                    What I will not do, and what I believe no other Tea Party member will do, is to compromise on principle. Not once, not even a little bit.

                    If one is willing to compromise on a principle, then that ‘principle’ is nothing more than a wish, a hope, and a dream. It is a mere flight of fancy. Wishes, hopes, dreams, and flights of fancy do not motivate people to give up their time and money, or to expend significant energy and effort in their support. But, ask people to support a cause in pursuance of a bedrock principle, a cause advocated and advanced by people who believe in it enough to put their political careers on the line, and people will be drawn to those causes who will neither flag nor fail. People who are fully invested in the principles upon which the American republic was founded are the people who are needed now.

                    I need only mention one example: Governor Walker’s original campaign for Governor, his fight in support of Act 10, his campaign to defeat the recall, and his subsequent victory, together, are as great an example of commitment to principle as I have witnessed since Ronald Reagan left office. While no Tea Party group, nor the Tea Party movement as a whole, may take sole credit for the results, it is both true and worth stating that every Tea Party group of which I am aware worked hard to support the Governor through issue advertising, writing letters to the editor, walking door-to-door to deliver issue oriented literature, making telephone calls supporting the Governor’s position, manning information booths, etc. And not just those Tea Party members and groups located in Wisconsin, but members and groups from across the country.

                    People and groups from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Washington (the state), Utah, Colorado, and others, Tea Party members all, participated in those efforts. A clear demonstration, if one was needed, of the power of principled conservative leadership to attract support.

          2)      Do not imitate the political equivalent of a weather-vane—if you want to be a leader, then lead. There is no surer way to generate disappointment in a politician or candidate than to create the impression that one is waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing before taking a stand on an issue. If one has previously thought through and established the bedrock principles upon which one will rely in analyzing whether or not to support or oppose a bill or a program beforehand, then when the time comes, one will be able easily and quickly to set forth one’s position on the matter.

                    Having used Governor Walker in my first discussion as an example of a politician who stood strong in the face of active and adamant opposition, I will now use Governor Walker as an example of a politician flirting with weather-vane status. Though Governor Walker’s recent announcement that he believes Wisconsin can do better than would be the case if it adopted the Common Core State Standards was, in my estimation, the correct decision, it bears noting that the Governor was fast losing support due to his dithering and failure to take an early decision on the issue. Though I personally remain a staunch supporter of his, that behavior was not one of the Governor’s finest hours.

          3)      Stop worrying about polls, news reports, pundit commentary (expert or otherwise), or any other mainstream media input into our national political dialog. NOTHING you do, nothing you say, nothing you have to offer in the way of compromise, will result in the media reporting on your efforts in a favorable light. We all enjoy being liked, but you were not elected to be liked–especially not by the mainstream media–you were elected to do a job consisting of three major parts:

                    a)      Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. That part of your job description, that part of your duties as an elected official, that reason for your participation in the political process, is your paramount responsibility. NOTHING you can or will do takes precedence over your responsibility to the Constitution.

                              If defending the Constitution causes you to be unpopular, defending the Constitution is still your primary responsibility. If protecting the Constitution causes you to lose your office at the next election, protecting the Constitution is still your primary responsibility. And if preserving the Constitution causes you to lose friends, be invited less often to cocktail parties, and be openly shunned on the street, preserving the Constitution is still your primary responsibility.

                              If that is too hard, if you do not think the Constitution is worth that amount of commitment and sacrifice on your part, then resign your office. The sad reality is that if you are not willing to make that kind of commitment and sacrifice, then you are not fit to serve.

                    b)      Treat the public’s money not as something to which government is entitled, it is not; treat the public’s money as if it is something for which you could be tried for treason for misusing or misappropriating it. The Constitution gives Congress the power to tax the public in order that government could engage in eighteen enumerated activities–and not one activity more. That the courts have expanded the “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” clauses beyond all recognition by the Founders does not absolve Congress from its responsibility to be true to the Constitution as written, ratified, and understood by the people who wrote and ratified it. Nor does it absolve the state governments from doing so.

                    c)      Stop acting as though every problem that arises requires a government solution. It doesn’t. Most problems are not government’s problems to fix; but they are government’s responsibility not to make worse by intruding where government does not belong. If you really want to make things better, erase every law currently on the books and start over. And while you are at it, eliminate every government agency, whether cabinet rank or lower, which is not the Treasury Department, the State Department, or the War Department. And no, that last is not a mistake. I advocate changing the Defense Department’s name back to the War Department. Doing so erases all the ambiguity regarding the reason for its existence. It is NOT a humanitarian relief society, it is not a police force, and it is not engaged in nation building. The “War Department’s” one and only purpose is to wage war–to destroy the enemy’s war making capability by destroying the enemy’s capacity to buy or build the machinery and munitions of war, by killing as many members of the enemy’s military personnel as possible, by eliminating the enemy’s command and control capabilities, by destroying the enemy’s infrastructure, and perhaps most importantly, by destroying the enemy’s morale, eliminating the enemy’s will to continue the fight. War is not a game, and is not something to be played at. If this country’s finest young men and women are going to be asked to give their lives in defense of freedom, they deserve to know that the country they serve is FULLY behind them—before asking our country’s best to go in harm’s way, the very least they deserve is for their country to honor their sacrifice by making a formal declaration of war and a commitment not to stop until the enemy is destroyed or it surrenders unconditionally.

                              I have one last thing to say on the topic of the military. DO NOT EVER, EVER, EVER again try to deny access to this country’s war memorials, military cemeteries, or battlefields. Any politician who supports or engages in such a betrayal of those who have worn its uniform deserves to be immediately removed from office.

          4)      Stop acting as though holding political office is both a birthright and an occupation. It is neither. This country fought two wars with England to get rid of rule by monarchy, and the Founders were very clear that those who hold public office should do so only for a limited period of time, then go back to living among the people and subjecting themselves to the laws they passed while in office.

                    The longer any politician spends in Washington, DC or Madison, WI serving in an elective office, the more they forget what life is like for ‘ordinary’ people; the more they forget how hard it is for the average working person to care for themselves and their families, how hard it is to find and keep a job that pays them a living wage for an honest day’s work, and still leaves them time to spend with their children.

                    The news reports are filled with stories of broken homes, absentee parents, unsupervised children, drug use at earlier and earlier ages, children having children … the list goes on and on. All the while politicians and the press join hands and chant the litany of reasons for this decline in a sense of community, of belonging to something bigger than oneself.

                    There are two primary causes for this deplorable situation in modern US society:

                    a)      A welfare system that makes men superfluous, mere donors of one-half the DNA of each new life. Deprived of parental rights, absolved of parental responsibilities, and if acknowledged at all, acknowledged only for the purpose of bleeding them dry of all self-respect.

                    b)      A consumer oriented society that measures success by the prestige of the make of car one drives, the size of one’s house, all the latest toys and gadgets one has on display in that house, the exotic locale of one’s latest vacation, and let’s not forget the prestige of one’s occupation. And if children are mentioned at all in the list of one’s trophies, they are trotted out for display on special occasions so that friends and neighbors may coo appropriate sounds to reassure one that one’s children are the best looking and brightest children ever—as if they were a sort of zoo animal to be brought out for the inspection of the largest donors.

                    All of which leads to one of two things, both of which have deleterious effects on children, families, neighborhoods, and schools:

                              i)       Broken homes in which children are raised by a single parent, or

                              ii)      Two-parent homes in which both parents are so busy “keeping up with the Joneses” they never spend time with their children. Instead they send them to daycare, then boarding school, then college—all the while hoping an expensive gift from time-to-time will make up for the absentee parents for whom their children are at best only a second priority.

          5)      Make reductions in government in bold strokes. Stop nibbling around the edges. Eliminate whole departments and programs, most of them are not needed, and many of them do more harm than good. Weed them out ruthlessly. Ask yourselves, “What would happen if we just stopped doing this?” And most important of all, “Is this department or program authorized by the Constitution by one of the enumerated powers set forth in Article I, Section 8?” REF– — — USE to listen to the people who tell you the Constitution is out of date and may be safely ignored. REF– — — USE to listen to those who would expand the powers of government by a wholly unwarranted expansion of the meaning of the “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” clauses.

                    It is likely that you were elected to office in order to make a difference, to “clean things up,” to right all the wrongs that were so obvious looking in from the outside. DO NOT listen to those who tell you that you must go along to get along. That you must wait your turn, and quietly pay your dues, accumulating seniority before being allowed to speak on any meaningful topic in meaningful ways. Such statements are merely self-serving platitudes, meant to keep those in power who have made it their life’s work to attain it. Ignore them. Keep your campaign promises. Do not accept no for an answer.

                    Those who tell you that only time served brings a maturity of perspective to a legislator, only do so in an effort to convince you that with maturity you too will see that government is the solution to every problem. Ignore them, or better yet, actively expose them for the fraud they are perpetrating on the public. Collegiality with frauds is not the way to bring about change in government that actually helps, and not hurts, the public.

          6)      The Democrats are not your friends—they are your enemies. They will do and say anything to get and keep power. If they seem to be acting reasonably in any given situation, it means you’ve missed the opportunity they’ve discovered that will allow them to bury a knife deep in your back. Look harder—the knife is there. If they pay you a compliment, they are whispering sweet words meant to distract you from their true intent. Remember, the Democrats have embraced the use of the “big lie.” NEVER trust anything that a Democrat says.

                    Where the Democrats are concerned, no bargain is a bargain, no compromise is a compromise, and no deal is a deal, unless the Democrats get 100% of what they want. They have raised truculence to an art form. Until the GOP comes to grips with that reality, until the GOP finds a way to fight through the fog of war created by the mainstream media in defense of the Democrats, all the while providing aid and comfort to the enemy, the GOP will lose every fight.

                    The best and only way to bargain with a Democrat is to remember President Reagan’s negotiations with Gorbachev at Reykjavik. In the end, Reagan simply walked away and said, “It is better to make no deal at all, than it is to make a bad deal.” It has been said that politics is the art of compromise. Perhaps that once was so, but it cannot be so when one side always gives up everything it wanted and the other side gives up nothing at all.

                    At some point, the GOP must stand and fight. No compromise, no deal, no backing up, and no backing down. If the GOP cannot or will not bring itself to do that, then the GOP will cease to be a viable political party. The calls for a third party, already the choice of 60% of the people, will grow louder and then become reality. And the GOP will go the way of the Federalist and Whig parties before it. If it will not fight, it will have deserved its fate.