Why the president's ad campaign against the grassroots movement is doomed to fail.
According to the New York Times, President Obama's political advisers are considering a national ad campaign that will attempt to convince Americans that Tea Party "radicals" are "taking over" the Republican Party. Such a strategy demonstrates two things: first, Democrat ideologues have bought into their own propaganda regarding the composition and objectives of the movement; second, as a result of those erroneous assumptions, Democrats are convinced that tying the Tea Party to Republicans would be detrimental to the GOP. Oddly enough, so do a handful of Republicans. Which Republicans? The very same RINOs (Republican In Name Only) who orchestrated their own party's demise.
It is no secret that Republicans were drummed out of office beginning in 2006 for one simple reason: they abandoned their core principles. Americans came to understand that "compassionate conservatism" was nothing more than tax-and-spend liberalism sold under a different name. And while George W. Bush has often been cited for maintaining a commitment to his core values, those values--with the lone exception of his approach to Islamic terror--were hardly conservative. They were values which gave America such things as "free" prescription drugs, lavish farm subsidies, steel tariffs -- and the same kind of irresponsible, break-the-bank spending for which Democrats were famous.
In short, the RINO wing of the Republican party reigned supreme. Much like its Democrat counterpart, this faction of the party believed the path to permanent power in Washington, D.C. consisted of bribing the electorate with federal programs--no matter how unaffordable it became. The culmination of RINO shortsightedness was the nomination of John McCain for president, thus giving a substantial portion of the electorate, aka conservatives, a very bad choice: a younger liberal, versus an aging one, masquerading as a Republican.
Americans opted for youth, abetted by a mainstream media which collectively--and successfully--tamped down Barack Obama's radical political views and his associations with former terrorists, a racist preacher and a Communist mentor.
Suffused with solid victories in two consecutive election cycles, the American Left reacted quite predictably: they assumed they had become invincible. Democrat political strategist James Carville summed up this mindset when he predicted that Democrats "would rule for forty years." Since over-bearing arrogance has always been a staple of the Left, it wasn't long before Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al, were convinced that Americans would embrace their worldview of a "fundamentally broken" nation in need of a thorough make-over.
That arrogance is directly responsible for the rise of the Tea Party movement. It is an arrogance demonstrated by a health care bill replete with bribes, put together in secret, and voted into law without a single Republican supporting it. It is an arrogance which engendered an $865 billion stimulus bill, which neither held unemployment under a promised eight percent, nor stimulated anything other than a government sector, which added jobs even as the private sector was hemorrhaging them. It is an arrogance which has aligned itself with illegal immigrants and Ground Zero provocateurs over concerned Americans who were called "bigots" for disagreeing with that alignment. It is an arrogance which, if the current election predictions hold, will likely manifest itself in a Congressional lame-duck session where Democrats will attempt to a pass cap-and-trade bill and/or amnesty for illegal aliens.
It is no secret why the American Left despises the Tea Party movement. Its three main planks--limited government, fiscal responsibility and fealty to the Constitution as written--are antithetical to everything the Left holds dear. Thus, the very same folks who decried the "politics of personal destruction" during the Clinton years are determined to undermine the movement by any means necessary. This includes president Obama, who both taught and firmly believes in the "Alinsky Method," a compendium of ideas designed to foment social revolution written by uber community activist Saul Alinsky. One of those ideas, "pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it" has become standard operating procedure for a White House which has demonized Fox News, "fat cat" bankers, "greedy" insurance companies, and apparently "dangerous" Tea Partiers in a new ad campaign.
One wonders if the president realizes he might be polarizing a majority of Americans with that campaign. Even if he is not, the reality of the 2010 election is that it is far more likely to be a referendum on the failures of the Obama administration and a Democratically-controlled Congress than the successes of the Tea Party movement. It is Democrats who own a dismal economy, a hated health care bill, taxpayer bailouts for favored constituencies--and a thinly-disguised contempt for the will of the people. In addition, their most recent attempt to "blame Bush" has fallen flat. Attempting to portray the Tea Party movement as another bogeyman is likely to be equally futile.
Republican resistance to the Tea Partiers? Very simple. The RINO wing of the party is slowly being purged and replaced with people who espouse genuinely conservative principles. In three Republican primaries in Alaska, Florida and Delaware, establishment party picks, Lisa Murkowski, Charlie Crist, and Mike Castle were beaten by Tea Party candidates Joe Miller, Marc Rubio and Christine O'Connell, respectively.
Judged by the subsequent actions of the losers, the electorate was right on the money. Crist is already running as a third party candidate, Murkowski is attempting to the do the same with a write-in candidacy, and Castle has announced he will remain "neutral" rather than support O'Donnell, despite being a Republican for forty-five years. So much for party loyalty.
Christine O'Donnell has been the particular focus of establishment scorn because she's viewed as a weak candidate, and because Castle was a lock to win a state that is now trending Democrat. It is a scorn exemplified by the National Republican Senatorial Committee initially announcing they wouldn't fund her campaign. They recanted a day later. Perhaps they came to their senses--or perhaps the fact that O'Donnell raised nearly a million dollars in campaign donations less than twenty four hours after her victory "clarified" their thinking.
Whether O'Donnell is the right candidate or a winner is largely irrelevant. No political movement produces perfect candidates, and if the Tea Party has legs after this November's election, is it likely there will be other candidates with less-than-stellar credentials representing the movement.
Nor is winning the ultimate bottom line at this particular moment in time. Something far bigger is occurring here: Americans are making it plain that the status quo of two political parties "without a dime's worth of difference between them" is coming to an end. They are sick to death of voting for the "lesser of two evils," especially when such "choices" are mortgaging the future of the country in the process. In Delaware, better a "flawed" Christine O'Donnell than a phony Mike Castle.
If Democrats are politically tone-deaf enough to characterize as "radicals" Americans who have demonstrated enormous courage by showing up at town hall meetings, marching on Washington, D.C., and kicking arrogant incumbents to the curb, so be it. If Republicans are dumb enough to miss an enormous opportunity to re-energize their party around principles they say they stand for, they are equally obtuse.
Perhaps neither party has enough time to consider the unthinkable: a political movement which has garnered so much success in less than two years could conceivably evolve into a viable third party by the 2012 election. It wouldn't take much to get the electorate excited by the idea of tossing out members of the aptly-anointed "ruling class" in both parties.
It's the principles, stupid.