It’s probably not fair to call the 2014 primary season a roller coaster for the Tea Party. A roller coaster would suggests some ups and some downs. The reality is that it’s been one really, big up in the middle of a bunch of downs. Dave Brat’s victory was a huge up, but that’s been about the only one. In other races, the GOP Establishment has dispatched Tea Party favorites with regularity, including last night’s soul crushing victory for Thad Cochran over Chris McDaniel.
The Tea Party is not dead. It has helped to field candidates and ran some decent races, but that’s not enough. As I said on Twitter last night, Moral victories aren’t good enough when the country is headed off the cliff.
I have some thoughts on what we’ve learned through this primary season and what the Tea Party can do going forward. Of course, the Tea Party is not really an organized entity, but rather a movement based around reducing government, taxes, and a return to constitutionalism. When I offer suggestions of what the Tea Party should do, I’m really offering suggestions to the individuals who believe in those principles.
What We Have Learned
Grassroots Conservatism Can Work – People are still energized by conservatism and conservative issues. People want smaller government, secure borders, sensible foreign policy, more freedom. If Brat’s victory of Cantor proves anything, it proves that people are fed up with the status quo. The problem is that the GOP Establishment loves the status quo almost as much as the Democrats.
The GOP Establishment Aren’t Tea Partiers – While that may seem obvious, let me elaborate. I’m not just saying that the Establishment isn’t involved in the Tea Party. I’m saying they are its enemy. Mitch McConnell, who faced a primary opponent, said that they would “crush” the Tea Party. Thad Cochran’s campaign played the racism card against the McDaniel to drive Democrats to the polls and tip the balance in his favor. Big money GOP donors and lobbyists have opposed the Tea Party at every turn.
Eric Cantor’s Defeat Was an Aberration – What I mean is that Cantor’s defeat doesn’t signal that the Tea Party has turned the tide within the GOP. By all accounts Cantor ran a lousy campaign. Yes, he spent more than Brat, but it was pointless, unfocused spending. His strategists told him he’d win easily, and he campaigned as such. Here’s an analogy for you. If the battle for the “soul of the GOP” were a football season, the Tea Party won one game and lost the rest. Yes, they knocked off the number one team in the country (Brat defeating Cantor), but that’s about it. One memorable win doesn’t mean make the whole season.
1. Rediscover The Mission – Tea Partiers need to do some soul searching. What are they trying to accomplish? Are they trying to save the country or reform the Republican Party? They need to come to the realization that they may not be able to do both. Another football analogy comes to mind. It’s tough to run for a touchdown when your own “teammates” are tackling you.
2. Stay Energized – The Cochran victory was a gut punch. Politics is a tough business. Turning the country around will be even harder. Focus on America’s greatness and your children’s future. More than ever your energy is needed. Whatever you do, don’t give up the fight.
3. Know Your Options – If you think that the GOP is the only alternative, you’re wrong. The American Conservative Party espouses conservative ideas and wants to see them implemented. We’ll support any candidate (even a Republican) willing to pull hard in the right direction. Building a new party is tough, but you may find it easier than trying to take back a party that is hostile to you.
4. Draw A Line in the Sand – If you are a Tea Partier who’s not ready to stop fighting for the “soul of the GOP,” then you need to draw a line. What will it take for you to say, Enough is Enough, and leave the GOP? GOP-backed Amnesty? Having Jeb Bush shoved down your throat in 2016? In my opinion, this primary season should have been enough, but everyone has to decide for themselves. Don’t be the person who 5 years from now is still fighting to save a party that has left you while the country is deeper in trouble. Draw a line in the sand, and if or when the GOP crosses it, walk away and find another place to work. The American Conservative Party will be ready when you are.