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Monday, November 26, 2012

Tea Party Strategy for 2013 And Beyond?

Here's one angle arguing from a Tea Party perspective that Mitt Romney's defeat puts the Tea Party, fiscal conservatives and small-government libertarians in a better position in the Republican Party.
We are recovering, we are retrenching, and there is much to be encouraged about in the loss earlier this month.  Seriously.

Make no mistake about it, had Mitt Romney won, this would not have been our victory.  it is quite likely that the Tea Party and Constitutional conservative movements would have been discarded like this morning's coffee within moments of the victory speech.  We would have been shunted outside, left in the cold of night, to press our noses against the glass like the little child who isn't invited to the party.  Indeed, the Tea Party News Network ( declined to endorse Romney on the eve of the election, instead endorsing none of the above.

What is curious -- and which must not be forgotten -- is the eagerness with which our detractors -- our enemies, let's not kid ourselves -- have assigned blame for defeat to our side. We are called radicals, extremists.  If this is what we are called by the Republican establishment, then why are we not celebrating their defeat?  So, raise your glass...

(1)   Perhaps Obama's vote totals in 2012 will be the "high water" mark for Democrats for decades to come.  Future, white candidates may be unable to match the voter turnout of America's first minority President, even by giving away the store. That is because it is hard to imagine a Democratic candidate who could be more efficient than President Obama at buying votes through government-sponsored giveaways.  How will future Democrats run to the left of Obama? How will future Democrats appease a voter base now conditioned to giveaways and special constituency-driven handouts?  Future Democrats may drive away their base -- or at least, will be unable to match Obama's numbers -- merely by acknowledging the fiscal problems as to which uncomfortable solutions may have gained universal acceptance by 2016.  By this reasoning, Democrats could only gain more votes through a broad economic recovery prompting greater numbers of the middle-class and upper-class electorate to vote Democratic.

(2)   What is also encouraging is that it is also hard to imagine a Republican candidate who could be less effective and less beloved by the conservative base than Mitt Romney.  Here is a candidate who garnered little warmth and passion, and who was consistently passed over in favor of other primary candidates by 75% of the Republican primary electorate in polls until the Republican field was reduced to no more than five candidates.  If Obama 2012 represents the Democratic high water mark, Romney 2012 may represent the Republican low water mark, the absolute floor below which one cannot fall. 

Perhaps the Romney defeat is in part attributable to the refusal of the "base" -- whether it be hard-core conservatives forever and justifiably suspicious of Romney and the Beltway Republicans, or the Ron Paul libertarians treated scornfully at the national convention -- to turn out to elect the candidate of an Establishment that derides, disparages and disrespects them when not exploiting them.  But an alternative theory is implied by many Republican establishment strategists blaming the "extremist" or Tea Party wing of the party for the defeat in 2012.  This theory holds that Romney lost, not because the tea partiers or Ron Paul crowd didn't turn out in sufficient numbers, but because their very presence in the party turned other "moderate" voters and the legendary "independent" voters into indifferent voters who either didn't vote at all or were driven to vote for the incumbent. This is pure rubbish.  Whatever the theory, they are motivated by one thing: the desire to divert responsibility and blame away from the establishment political consultants and the milquetoast candidates (like Romney).  Without the Tea Party as scapegoat, blame necessarily -- and by default -- must go to the established strategists and the establishment candidate.  Make no mistake, 2008 and 2012 were their failures.  They should never be permitted to forget this.  RINOs -- not fiscal conservatives nor libertarians -- are the reason we will have eight years of Obama.

(3)   Further encouraging is the nature of exactly who lost in 2012. The loss to Obama was not by a fiscal, Constitutional conservative, but by the handmaiden of the dreaded, arguably unconstitutional individual health care mandate. Other high-profile losers were far from "tea party" candidates.  Missouri Senate candidate Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin was actually supported by incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in the GOP primary.  During the primary election, Akin was NOT supported by the tea party movement in Missouri.  That's why the Democrat incumbent wanted Akin to win: he'd be the easiest general election challenger to beat. Sound familiar?  As for losses by people like Allen West, understand that West was redistricted out and moved into a new district; his loss may, however, also illustrate a tactical failure to win on the ground.

(4)  More encouraging is the drive by moderate Republicans, RINOs, Democrats and the media elite to call for Republicans to move to the middle, to embrace minorities, and so on.  At first glance this may not sound quite right.  But understand the logical failure in any argument that any of this advice should actually be followed. The army that is victorious in battle does not give advice to its enemy on how to win the next time.  Tom Coughlin does not advise Bill Belichick on how the Patriots can beat the Giants if they meet in another Super Bowl. The Nazi armies sweeping into France did not give friendly advice to their new captives in the infamous railroad car (in which the terms of the armistice ending World War I were dictated to the defeated Axis nations).  This is why when the spider tells the fly to "come closer," you know a trap has been set. No, the victorious army is only interested in total conquest, unconditional surrender, and extinction of the enemy if subjugation cannot be achieved.  So take the talking heads' advice with the scorn that you viscerally feel it has earned. The other side -- and that includes many appeasing, complicit Republicans -- wants to win total victory by turning the Republican Party into a Democratic Party clone, the better method with which to turn the GOP from the 48% party into a permanent minority, regional party.

BUT HERE'S THE REALITY: Republicans got outworked on the "ground war" side of the election.  Democrats prevail in door-knocking, delivering voters to the polls, absentee ballot drives, voter registration, early voting operations, you name it, they do it better.  Very notably, Democratic consultants are talking about how their strategy, their methodology, won the battle, while on the other hand the Republican defeat is attributed to a supposed repudiation of fiscal, Constitutional conservatism.  It is as if there are two unspeakable truths: first, that Democrats really won because they appealed to the basest, most selfish instincts -- or what Ayn Rand acolytes might identify as apparently rational economic self-interest -- of an increasingly selfish younger generation and segments of the population taught through generations to embrace the greed of the layabout culture of entitlement, and second, that Republicans really lost despite their message (as bland and uninspiring as it was) because Republicans don't know the first thing about campaigning, messaging or getting their own voters to the polls.

This presents a renewed appreciation among political elites for the ground war skills, too long ignored and disdained by those same elites.  Tea party organizations can step in to fill this skill set.  We can excel at the battle of the elbow grease.  However, now our efforts must be appreciated, must not be taken for granted.  There is a price for our support. But the next time we take the field for battle, we need to stop complaining about the rules, recognize the rules of the game, rededicate ourselves to learning how to fight and win along those rules.  Our challenge is not monetary, it is not even strategic or tactical; it is attitudinal.

STICK WITH WHAT WORKS.  Our principles are not the problem.  Our principles are our core and are the reason we've won where we've won.  We're winning the battle of ideas -- and among Americans who are "producers" and "caregivers" we are winning, have won, by significant margins.  The Democrats are winning the battle of tactics.  We don't have to adopt any changes to principles but we need to narrow the Democrats' tactical advantage. 

Remember that 2012 was not a social-issues campaign.  Republicans will not gain more votes by becoming pro-abortion (abortion advocates will vote Democratic anyway), pro-gay marriage or pro-immigration amnesty (ditto).  All three lightning-rod issues have brought devoted, obsessed single-issue voters into the Democratic fold.  These voters are often the most passionate Democratic voters even though they are single-issue voters.  It is foolishness if not insanity to suggest that any one issue switch will magically cause significant single-issue voters to switch their allegiance to the Republican Party. As for immigration, the amnesty advocates are either stupid or think we are stupid enough to take their advice.  Among Hispanics, two of the three largest lands of origin are Puerto Rico and Cuba.  Puerto Ricans are born citizens of the United States, and Cuban-Americans most often have parents who were granted asylum or refugee status prior to applying for citizenship. Providing a "path to citizenship" or legal status to illegals does nothing to help either Puerto Ricans or Cubans.  Is it thus any surprise that amnesty in 1986 failed to drive significant Hispanic voters to the GOP?
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