No Circular Firing Squads, Please

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Sep 16, 2010 2:13 PM
There is no shortage of commentary about the Tea Party upset in Delaware -- or recriminations between two factions of the right: The Tea Partiers and the GOP Establishment.  Plenty of commentators are condemning commentators like Karl Rove, Charles Krauthammer and others who have opined that Christine O'Donnell cannot win the Delaware Senate seat; on the other side, there's no shortage of invective (though voiced more privately) about the "crazies" in the Tea Party.

I have an idea: Let's all stop it.  Others on the right are not our problem here; President Obama and the Democrats are the problem.

Tea Partiers' voices are being heard, and that's a good thing: They are much-needed advocates for limited government -- nothing is more central to our freedom and eventual economic recovery.  Although (as with any group) some of them may be part of the fringe, they certainly are NOT crazy: They are people who take the US Constitution seriously, and America is blessed to have them to defend our system of representative democracy during perilous times.  Their determination and vigor may end up being the salvation of us all.

But the GOP Establishment isn't crazy, either.  It's made up of two parts: Commentators and politicos/office-holders.  As for the former, commentary is what they do for a living, and they are entitled to their opinions, even if I don't agree with them -- at least to the extent that they don't allow themselves to be used by the MSM and other liberals as nothing but a tool to cudgel the grassroots, and as long as they aren't taking active steps to turn their "predictions" about defeat into reality (something of which I've seen few signs so far).  They're not the Tea Party's "enemy" -- and the right in America isn't about punishing those who dare disagree with their "conventional wisdom," whatever wing of the right it comes from.

The other part of the GOP establishment is made up of politicos and office-holders.  Their primary function and goal is to secure as many Republican seats -- of any stripe -- that they can.  It doesn't make them bad; that's just who they are and what they do.  The beauty of the Tea Party is that they can influence these people -- unless they go so far over the top in insulting them that the influence disspates.  Then, God help us all: We will be divided, and thereby cede the field to the Big Government crew of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

Maybe we all -- me included -- need to take a deep breath and realize that the Tea Party's principles of small government and freedom have the best chance of taking hold in an environment where Tea Partiers recognize the GOP establishment as their allies most of the time, and resolve to work with them whenever possible.

In turn, the GOP establishment has to realize and respect the fact that the function of the Tea Party isn't to win seats for people just because they have "R"'s after their names -- it's to advance a specific set of principles.  If the GOP establishment wants to reap the electoral benefits of Tea Party support, it had best find strong, principled candidates who are committed to those ideals.

If each side recognizes the function and priorities of the other -- as a fact, not a value judgment -- it's perfectly possible for both to maximize the chances of attaining their objectives. 

So let's get back to figuring out how to replace the Obama "Government Knows Best" era with Republican office-holders who embrace the free market, limited government, and freedom.