Scott Brown Gives Tea Partiers the Could Shoulder – Should We Be Surprised?


Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts understandably energized many conservatives and provided the valuable 41st vote against ObamaCare in the Senate.  But how much of an ally will he really be to the Right?  The Daily Beast’s Samuel Jacobs reports on Brown’s conspicuous absence from today’s Boston Tea Party, wondering whether or not the participation of a certain Alaska governor has anything to do with it:

Since his election three months ago, Brown has had a hot and cold relationship with Palin, the Tea Party’s spiritual leader. On Election Night, Palin called the newly minted senator to congratulate him on his victory. She touted Brown’s “underdog campaign” on her Facebook page. But nine days after the election, Brown told reporters, “I don’t know Sarah Palin. I’ve never spoken with her. She’s never reached out, vice versa.” (A Brown campaign spokesman later said that the call with the party’s biggest star “had completely slipped his mind.”)

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So it went in Massachusetts as well, where Brown leaned on local Tea Party members and then seemed to forget their existence. Back on January 2, more than a week before a Rasmussen Poll would have Brown within striking distance of his opponent Martha Coakley, members of the Greater Boston Tea Party were invited to a breakfast for the Republican, netting him $12,000. A few days later, Brown was portrayed in a Boston Globe story as being completely unaware of the movement. Asked about the Tea Party, Brown replied, “I am not quite sure what you are talking about, what are they trying to do?” (Other journalists said the quote was taken out of context.)

On the one hand, conservatives shouldn’t be surprised if Brown turns out to disappoint us. Though his record is fairly conservative and he aggressively campaigned against nationalizing American healthcare, he did support RomneyCare (and has defended that decision), has staked out a middle ground on marriage, supports abortion, voted for Barack Obama’s ineffectual jobs bill, and has hailed John McCain as his model for governing.  My stance on moderate Republicans is no secret, but whatever his political failings may be, it’s not as if he’s been some sort of leftist double agent—the guy campaigned as an independent Massachusetts Republican, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen since his election.

On the other hand, the groundswell of support he received from grassroot conservatives and the Tea Party movement is undeniable, as is the (sometimes silly) confidence placed in his potential.  At the very least, one would hope the Senator capable of showing at least some gratitude for that—especially when those supporters assemble in his own state to proclaim their values and honor Massachusetts’ revolutionary history.  And if Brown is scared of Palin Derangement Syndrome, that’s all the more reason to doubt his effectiveness as a national conservative leader.

In the years to come, Brown will vote with us in some instances, and against us in others, and we should praise and criticize him accordingly.  But conservatives shouldn’t expect anything more than that—if we haven’t learned our lesson about hero worship by now, who knows what it’ll take.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.