Written on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 by David L. Goetsch
There has always been tension between mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party. Mainstream Republicans represent the middle and left elements of the party while Tea Party Patriots lean more to the right. Local Tea Party groups do their best to pull the Republican Party to the right while mainstream Republicans—although they are loathe to admit it—pull the party inexorably to the left. The Tea Party wants Republicans to hold fast on conservative principles while mainstream Republicans think ideological dilution is the key to winning future elections.
The enmity between Republican Party moderates and Tea Party conservatives was ratcheted up a notch recently when party apparatchik Karl Rove and company established what they are calling the “Conservative Victory Project.” Here is how Political Outcast describes Rove’s new project: “The Conservative Victory Project is a direct attack on the Tea Party and its conservative agenda to bring the GOP back to fiscal conservatism and a renewed moral culture that includes opposition to State-sanctioned abortion and State-promoted homosexual marriage, to name just two important social issues.”
So who is right in this standoff between Tea Party Patriots and mainstream Republicans? On one hand you have Karl Rove and Republican mainstreamers who appear to be willing to water down their principles and become what I call “rogressives” (Republicans progressives) in a desperate attempt to win elections. On the other hand, you have Tea Party patriots who believe it would be better to lose elections while standing firmly for conservative principles than to win them by casting those principles aside.
One thing is certain: America has arrived at a critical juncture in its history. As a nation we can either reverse our current course—a course that leads to a country of the government, by the government, and for the government—or we can chart a new course that will, once again, be guided by the principles for which our Founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Which path is taken depends on who wins the ideological battle between Tea Party patriots and rogressives.
The key to turning America around and charting a new course is to revive the principles subscribed to by our Founders in starting the great experiment that became the United States. Those principles include: limited government, low taxation, a free-market economy, individual liberty, personal responsibility, a strong national defense, constitutional sovereignty, and high moral values. I submit that trying to win elections by casting these principles aside is a mistake that will result in hollow victories at best and continuing defeats at worst.
Further, ceding the moral high ground to liberals on either social or economic issues—or both—will do nothing to restore the America envisioned by our Founders. In fact, when it comes to restoring the America envisioned by our founders the Republican Party and the Tea Party both have an important decision to make. They can continue their internecine squabbling and both lose, or they can become allies in a cause that is greater than both organizations: rescuing our country from so-called progressives who are bent on transforming America into an impotent, irrelevant, European-socialist state that is bankrupt economically and morally.
The role of the Republican Party in this great endeavor is to provide the organization, professional staff, and funding needed to win local, state, and national elections. It is also the role of the Republican Party to identify talented, dedicated, informed conservatives who can articulate our Founding principles, stand up to the leftwing media, appeal to Americans of both genders and all races, and show Americans a better vision as Ronald Reagan did. These are things only a major political party can do, and the Tea Party is not a political party nor should it seek to become one.
The role of the Tea Party is to be the Republican Party’s accountability partner. If you have ever tried to diet, stop smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, or workout at the gym on a regular basis, you know what an accountability partner is. An accountability partner is someone who helps you persevere in staying true to what you are trying to do, who you are trying to be, and the course you have set for yourself. Mainstream Republicans who advocate ideological dilution as the appropriate response to recent electoral victories for Democrats need an accountability partner—badly.
Let me be clear, Republicans did not lose the last two presidential elections because they were too conservative. They lost because they went soft on conservative principles and selected candidates who not only failed to articulate these principles to a broad cross section of Americans, but did not fully accept the principles themselves. If the Republican Party had been serious about winning the last two presidential elections, it would not have selected milquetoast candidates who stood for nothing and had the popular appeal of day-old oatmeal. The Republican Party needs the Tea Party and the Tea Party needs the Republican Party. Both have important roles to play in restoring the America of our Founders and neither can do it alone. Like it or not, they are going to have to work together.