About three-quarters of the 1,500 or so in attendance erupted into enthusiastic applause. Those who did not responded, instead, with scowls of pragmatic disapproval. These hushed naysayers represent, I think, the dwindling minority of liberal-leaning RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) within the establishment GOP. Yes, Republicans can be elitist, too.
How true, I thought. Tea Party conservatives are simply Reagan conservatives by another name: same values, different decade.
I've said it before. Ronald Reagan often spoke of a "three-legged stool" that undergirds what I call "complete conservatism." The legs symbolize a strong national defense, strong free-market principles and strong traditional social values. For the stool to remain upright, it must be supported by all three legs. If you snap off even one leg, the stool collapses under its own weight.
A Republican, for instance, who is conservative on social and national defense issues but liberal on fiscal issues is not a complete conservative. He is a quasi-conservative socialist.
A Republican who is conservative on fiscal and social issues but liberal on national defense issues is not a complete conservative. He is a quasi-conservative dove.
By the same token, a Republican who is conservative on fiscal and national defense issues but liberal on social issues - such as abortion, homosexual rights or the Second Amendment - is not a complete conservative. He is a socio-liberal libertarian.
I was discussing Reagan's three-legged stool the other day with my friend Mark Lloyd, chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation and president of the aforementioned Ronald Reagan Institute.
"What do you suppose holds together those three legs of the stool?" he asked. "Do tell," I replied. "The seat," he said. "And the seat, which is sustained by all three legs - a strong defense, the free market and traditional social values - is where we as Americans can rest steady."
"What does the seat signify?" I asked. "The seat represents those certain unalienable rights granted by our creator, addressed in the Declaration of Independence and enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. The seat is our individual life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, bound together by faith in God and love of country," he concluded.
Indeed, the ongoing Tea Party uprising is a monumental grass-roots clamoring for a national return to Reagan conservatism. Reagan conservatism is merely an extension of the fundamental principles held near and dear by our Founding Fathers.
The die is cast and the cast is clear. In today's revolution King George and the Redcoats are channeled by Barack Obama and his like-minded "progressive" lackeys in the media and elsewhere. "Taxation without representation" signifies the larger secular-socialist agenda they seek to impose.
But that's fine. When spurred by the cause of freedom, "right-wing extremists" - like those who pledged lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order "to form a more perfect union"- have never backed down from a good fight.
For those wishful thinking "progressives" and lukewarm RINOs who imagine that the Reagan revolution is over, I say it's only just begun.