I’ll break it down for you, Save Jerseyans:
Two major tristate area Tea Party organizations, the Morristown Tea Party (out of North Jersey) and the Independence Hall Tea Party (in Philadephia with a strong South Jersey membership), have consistently backed Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential election.
Four others – the Monmouth County Tea Party Coalition, Ocean County Citizens For Freedom, the Bayshore Tea Party Group and Tea Party of Middlesex County - blasted out a joint, defiant email press release yesterday evening endorsing Rep. Ron Paul and decrying what they describe as Romney’s “record of left-leaning policies.”
Your Blogger-in-Chief only mentions this tea-on-tea violence because it has many of our regular readers excited, hot, and yeah, a little bothered too. Pro-Romney tea partiers can’t believe their compatriots could be so short-sighted as to waste a vote on someone (Paul) who has a better chance of being elected Bishop of Rome than President of the United States. Romney detractors can’t believe fellow tea parties could support an “establishment” darling who fails to rouse his audiences with spittle-ridden Agenda 21 rants.
My two cents as an outside observer? I can’t believe some of these folks take themselves so seriously!
A little history refresher might be instructive.
Tea Parties sprang up across America in 2009 and 2010 when concerned citizens sought to energize unengaged taxpayers. Their motivation? Barack Obama’s Democrat Party began pushing the federal government’s role in our lives to extremes that would’ve made FDR or LBJ blush. Some of these newly-minted “tea partiers” were well-versed in American History (hence the historical allusion to faux Mohawk Indians dumping tea crates into Boston Harbor). However, until that moment in time, these folks hadn’t dabbled in political activism for whatever reason. Many more instinctively felt something was wrong with America’s present direction and consequently endeavored to do something substantive about it.
Above all else, these self-styled “patriots” were united in disdain for what they correctly perceived as the arrogance of big government liberalism. Sure, they set out to make stuff happen! But the tea party also held pedagogical potential as a way to educate fellow citizens and grow the pro-Constitution, pro-liberty, pro-limited government movement in America.
So why are some tea party leaders arrogant enough to think their respective organizations’ missions revolve around passing judgment on other conservative’s adherence to founding principles?
Quite honestly, Mitt Romney fits the founding profile more closely than any other modern presidential candidate on either side of the ideological divide. Wealthy, aristocratic, enterprising, a little prudish and dogmatically pragmatic. Fundamentally, the American experiment began as one giant capital venture! Mitt Romney is a natural successor to that tradition.
And I emphasize Mr. Romney’s private sector “pragmatism” for a reason, folks, and it’s the same reason why Thomas Paine wasn’t charged with drafting the U.S. Constitution, Save Jerseyans. In many respects, it was a blessing for our developing republic that two of the most ideological and politically divisive men of the age (Adams the Federalist and Jefferson the Democrat) were stationed overseas during the convention. The colonies may’ve been freed by firebrands, but it was framed by calculated compromise – driven and principled statesmen like James Madison who, in Federalist #10, specifically advocated for a layered governmental system capable of distilling citizens’ passions and preventing the rise of “factions” in American political life.
So hey, if it makes some tea party leaders happy to endorse a candidate who says much of what they’re thinking, red-faced and furious, instead of one who could actually beat Obama and save the country… more power to them. Let the tea packets fall where they may! I’m sure it’s emotionally satisfying to vote for a man who thinks America is primarily responsible for 9/11. Meanwhile, the vast majority of conservative voters (and virtually all “swing” voters) will make up their own minds.
I think ignorance is the enemy here, folks. Some of these tea partiers (though not all) are misreading history. The Framers hoped to avoid here in America what Europe ultimately transformed into - a patchwork of democracies handicapped by balkanized “party” systems wherein 15 different ideologically pure factions battled one another for political dominance.
The Tea Party movement was supposed to remain an organic, informed response to runaway government; a perfect harmony between enlightenment and activism rarely seen on the Left! Many groups have stayed true, but others have stayed. Big time. After all, the Tea Party movement was never supposed to mutate into a secular inquisition or, even worse, just another hyper-political forum for petty recriminations and artificial divisions among like-minded people who can hardly afford to be divided.
Pro-Paul orgs referenced earlier in this post have, at varying times, seen certain leading figures and vocal members back pretty much every GOP 2012 presidential hopeful in the field except Mitt Romney. Now that he is the presumptive nominee, the aforementioned joint press release declares their collective refusal to be “forced” into choosing between “the lesser of two evils.” Moreover, they say “We choose to stand by our principles rather than to sell our souls to the game of politics because this is what Ron Paul has done consistently his entire political life and we expect nothing less of ourselves.”
Even if we accept this “Mitt is a liberal” foolishness as gospel (which you know I don’t), isn’t our Framers’ system deliberately designed to create concensus rather than favor purity? Reagan would be too liberal for these folks! And who is forcing anyone to do anything? I haven’t heard reports of NJGOP paramilitary officers rounding up tea partiers and forcing them to put Romney bumper stickers on their cars. And aren’t endorsements, strong-worded releases and sniping at the only man who can defeat Barack Obama at this late stage a perfect example of the “game of politics” as we’ve come to know it? Some of the backbiting I’m witnessing on message boards and Facebook walls might even be a little rough for the Game of Thrones universe!
Either way, I know this is all getting too silly for me to stomach, Save Jerseyans. There is, however, some upside potential. There almost always is, right? Two or three years into the movement’s history, we’re going to find out pretty soon which tea parties are (1) interested in saving the country by growing the movement and, on the other hand, which groups are (2) far more interested in fighting each other and reliving high school student council… probably because they couldn’t get elected the first time around!
Personally, this is why I subscribe to the late great William F. Buckley, Jr.’s “vote for the most electable conservative” approach. I’m voting for a president in 2012, Save Jerseyans – not the next pope of conservatism! Another sacred office which Ron Paul will (thankfully) never occupy.