Matt Towery

Polling shows that Georgia Republicans and conservatives associate solar energy with the "liberal political philosophy" more than almost any other specific source of electrical power. They are much more in support of even nuclear power, viewing it as more associated with the conservative spectrum.

In most conservative states, solar is still associated more with the politics of Bobby Kennedy Jr. than of the GOP or tea party movement -- again a well-intended man, but one who could not win a statewide race in conservative Georgia even if he paid every voter.

Since the days of Jimmy Carter's forward thinking but much ridiculed installation of solar panels in the White House (they were ultimately removed for failure to work), to the Solyndra debacle, Republicans and conservatives have viewed solar and wind as great concepts, but unworkable and somehow more a part of the left's agenda than the right's. They may be way off, but that's their view.

Now comes the danger for the tea party. Various tea party entities in Georgia have chosen to do battle over the effort to impose a greater solar-based energy quotient into the state's regulated energy provider. In recent days they have blasted one another. One tea party organization has pushed the concept as a money-saver, while two others have dismissed it as potentially costly and speculative. Thus the purpose and image become blurred for the public. They all have the best of intentions, but the least compelling of issues.

These patriots are missing the point. Solar energy may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But those who first took up banners and waved flags in favor of less government, reducing the debt and cutting taxes have no clue as to how or why solar energy has anything to do with their effort.

This type of "getting off course" has occurred in other states, as well. With privacy and liberty under attack and money still being printed and spent by the government with reckless abandon, the tea party movement cannot afford to mix messages, even if the message seems cool or visionary to some. If they do, they will be dancing between the political raindrops, trying to catch a ray of elusive electoral sun, and their marchers and banner carriers will congregate elsewhere.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery