Clarence Page sees Newt Gingrich, and thinks the Tea Party is dead. I see Newt’s rise, and think the Tea Party is very much alive. How can two different people have such divergent views?
Mr. Page is a consummate insider. He is an in the Beltway guy. He is also very liberal. My guess is that when it comes to serious talk, Page rarely engages with conservatives from outside the Beltway. First, he knows that he isn’t going to persuade them any more than they will persuade him. Second, when he gets outside the Beltway it’s probably rare that he seeks out a true conservative, preferring to hang out in his regular haunts. I guarantee that when he is in Chicago, it’s pretty tough to find a true conservative in this state.
Inside the Beltway people have to watch that they don’t get a case of groupthink. This goes for both parties. There is a tendency to hear only what you want to hear. It makes you tone deaf in the end. That’s why inside the Beltway people don’t understand the Tea Party. They wish it would just go away. It won’t, and it’s stronger than ever.
Eventually there will be some Occupy Wall Street people that will see the light and start to caucus with Tea Party people. The OWS disenchantment on bank bailouts has kinship in the Tea Party movement. Crony capitalism and big government are no-no’s for the Tea Party.
The nature of the Republican nomination process we see today says a lot more about the differences between parties and the Tea Party influence. Democrats are centrally controlled. It makes the party easy to move in one direction or another. Talking points between journalists and elected officials mimic one another. The party is top down.
Additionally, many of the adherents of the Democratic party are used to following orders. Their largest bloc of support is unions. Unions are top down organizations. They are lead by a well paid elite staff with hierarchies.
Republicans used to try and pattern themselves after the organization of Democrats. But the Tea Party has thrown a wrench into that. The proof, no Republican candidate can get a foothold. The nomination is very much in flux.
Everyone knows the default candidate is Romney. Romney can beat Obama. Tea Partiers know that Romney is the inside the Beltway choice to run. Page points to the rise of Gingrich as the downfall of the Tea Party. However, that’s not the case.
Gingrich is the latest in a series of candidates that have captivated the Tea Party. Like a bee, they are flitting from flower to flower to see who can give them the best ingredients for fine honey. In 2008, it was Ron Paul. This time, first it was Bachman. Then Rick Perry. Then Herman Cain. Now Newt Gingrich. Exactly what is wrong with trying on different candidates for size and seeing if you like them or not? Does everything have to be pre-ordained? Can they handle the spotlight and pressure?
Romney actually gives comfort to the Tea Party. He is the default candidate. They’d like something a little sexier to wear to the party, and so far Gingrich has performed well in debates. He also has used language that signals to the party the main mission. No matter who the candidate is we back them, and back them strongly because Obama must go down.
Is Gingrich an insider? He is. Is he as inside as Romney? He isn’t. His Contract With America movement in 1993 is evidence of that. Is he sometimes pretty radical? Maybe. But whomever doesn’t think many of the laws and regulations passed in the last three years aren’t radical, then they need their head examined. Given our financial situation alone, we need some radical movement and ideas to fix our upcoming problems.
When people ask me who I am backing, I say I don’t care. I am backing the Republican Party candidate because Obama is so terrifically bad. He is the worst President in a generation, and may be the worst President since 1900.
The other game that is being played at the same time as the Presidential Sweepstakes is the “Can We Get 60?”. It is just as important to get to 60 Senators as it is to win the White House. Sixty Senators means the Tea Party controls the agenda from the House to the Senate. All the President has to do is make sure his pen doesn’t run out of ink, and he keeps foreign policy in the right direction.
Newt might be pretty good at that.