Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What Does Victory for the TEA Party Look Like?

The Center for American Heritage
by Jason E. High
October 6, 2010

By all accounts, Republicans are on track to make major gains in Congress in November. Disenfranchised with the Democrats and energized by the Tea Party movement, voters appear to be prepared to give the Republican party a chance at governing for a while. Thus, the pendulum swings once more.

The question that needs to be asked, however, is what does victory for the Tea Party actually look like? Is victory simply defeating as many Democrats as possible in the fall election? Every Tea Party member and activist that I've spoken with adamantly decries any attempt to paint the movement as affiliated with the Republican party. So defining victory as obtaining Republican majorities would seem to run counter to their core philosophy.

Then is the measure of victory the number of incumbents that are thrown out of office, regardless of party? Here again, we find a contradiction since the Tea Party has appeared to embrace Senator Jim DeMint, Congressman John Boehner, as well as other incumbents. Measuring success by the number of Congressmen who are not returning, then, also appears to be off the table.

Additionally, it appears impossible to measure success by the ideology of the candidates, as the Tea Party is supporting candidates of various ideological stripes all across the country. Some support private accounts in Social Security, while some do not. Some have said that Social Security is unconstitutional and must be immediately ended; others consider it a vital safety net. The same differences appear on the social issues as well. Some are pro-life without exceptions, while some would allow abortions in almost every circumstance.

How, then, can anyone wake up on November 3rd and measure the electoral success of the Tea Party movement? Frankly, you cannot. The media will spin whatever happens on election day to advance their own interests. Both major parties will issue releases declaring victory in one form or another, with Republicans laying claim to a mandate from the electorate and the Democrats claiming that it could have been worse.

The reality is that the election results do not matter to the Tea Party’s victory. They have already won.

Others may claim victory because President Obama's agenda is dead or the Republican party is now more conservative or the Democrat party is a little less liberal. Each of these things are simply political concerns, changing with the political winds. They are the playthings of the establishment, not the tools of a revolution.

The Tea Party has won because it has begun the war to reclaim our nation's heritage.

The Tea Party has made our founding documents cool again. Average citizens are now reading the Federalist papers and discussing them with their friends. Conversations are happening all over the nation about the proper role of the federal government. While health care reform and the economic stimulus package were the real eye-openers for the public, citizens are now going back and examining things like education and welfare spending and questioning whether or not the federal government should be involved in these areas at all.

This national conversation is just now beginning, and it will take time to move from talking about reform to actually achieving it. As the movement matures, the conversation will begin to shift toward those reforms that can truly return America to greatness. It will move beyond single issues like eliminating ear marks or repealing the health care bill. It will begin talking about transforming Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, about federal involvement in education, about tax codes, and about the proper size of our military.

We're not out of the woods yet, but the fact that the conversation has finally started at a national level is something that the Tea Party can already count as success, no matter what happens on November 2nd.

Copyright 2010. The Center for American Heritage.

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