Will President Obama’s attempt to bring “fundamental change” to America backfire and ultimately push America to the right? Although far from certain, the possibility grows, as the tea parties symbolize a growing public awareness that government is expanding rapidly, at the expense of individual liberty, the private sector, and our standard of living.
Richard Viguerie helped invent the modern conservative political movement with his pioneering use of targeted direct mail lists, and has watched political dynamics in this country as closely as anyone. In today’s Washington Post
, he writes:
…with the emergence of the “tea party” movement, for the first time in my life I sense that it may be possible for conservatives to actually shrink the federal government.
He sees, as do I, that the essence of the tea party movement is the return to constitutional limited governance, restoring the legacy that our wise and divinely-inspired founders bequeathed us. But how to translate this vision into reality, given a movement that is largely leaderless?
Viguerie offers five excellent suggestions for tea partiers.
Most important, tea partiers must remain distinct from both political parties. The GOP would like nothing better than to co-opt the movement and control the independent conservatives…. [snip]
Go on a policy offensive.
We must take on policy initiatives that will fundamentally change America but that, because of crony politics, neither political party will touch.
For example, push hard on the 10th Amendment, reserving those powers not expressly delegated to the federal government to the states and the people, and auditing the Federal Reserve.
Get involved, then stay involved.
Tea partiers must make ourselves a constant presence and conscience in the lives of those we elect. Once politicians get into office, they are surrounded by lobbyists and special interests that want more, not less.
This is the hardest of his points to implement, because sustaining enthusiasm and activism is always a challenge. Regrettably, the seriousness of the economic crisis (for example, the pending massive tax increases), and the growing probability of a military/terror crisis arising out of Obama’s projection of weakness and appeasement, may be the painful “solution” to the problem of maintaining intensity among the opposition.
Pressure institutions to change.
We must expand our cause beyond anger at politicians. [snip] … we also need to train a spotlight on the failed leaders of other major American institutions from Hollywood to Wall Street, including big business, banks, mainstream media, labor unions and organized religion (notably my own Catholic Church).
Avoid the third-party trap.
Just as the tea party movement must not be co-opted by either of the major parties, nor can it yield to the temptation to start a third party.
In 2008, Republicans lost three Senate races because of conservative third-party candidates.
I am greatly heartened that there is little visible enthusiasm for third parties on the right. Charlie Crist is not exactly igniting enthusiasm from the tea partiers. I am personally hopeful that the tea parties’ emphasis on limited government may end up inducing many libertarians to support tea party-endorsed candidates cartrying the GOP label who are also committed to limiting government.
Barack Obama and his allies on the left — the serious left which seeks structural transformation of the United States into a state-dominated society, and a non-superpower — thought they could bamboozle the media and the public long enough to kick out of place key foundations of American life as it has been. Because they have contempt for those foundations (capitalism, constitutionalism, our military, and Judeo Christian values), the underestimated their power, and the attachment of the people to them.
It is worthwhile reading Viguerie’s advice, as we head toward midterm elections, and contemplate 2012.