Now that the Republican Party is set to nominate Mitt Romney to run against Barack Obama for president, it is clear that the Republican establishment has been taken over by moderates. This means that the middle point on America’s political spectrum has shifted to the left, not good news for true conservatives. Now, before going any further let me remind the reader that in a recent column I admitted that come November, I will hold my nose and vote for Romney.
I gave three reasons why voting for Romney in November is the best course, even for conservatives like me who are frustrated by the Republican Party’s shift away from the conservatism of Ronald Reagan: 1) Romney is not Obama, 2) Romney is not Obama, and 3) Romney is not Obama. Many conservatives, feeling disenfranchised by the moderate views of the Republican establishment, plan to make a statement by sitting out the presidential election. I understand their frustration, but disagree with their response. The only statement conservatives will make by staying home in November is “Welcome to another four years President Obama.”
Clearly, true conservatives face a challenge in moving America’s political center back to the right where it was during the Reagan years. But how can they do this when the Republican establishment is content to have it reside on the left? To have an effect on the body politic, it is necessary to have a voice and a vehicle. Since the Republican establishment can no longer be trusted to give voice to conservative principles and to provide a vehicle for advancing those principles, true conservatives may have to look elsewhere. This brings me to the question I have been pondering lately: Can the Tea Party save America by being the voice and vehicle for true conservative principles?
To answer this question, let us begin with a brief review of what those principles are. The principles of Reagan conservatism can be summarized as follows: limited government, low taxation, free-market economy, individual liberty, constitutional sovereignty, personal responsibility, military strength, and traditional American values. How do these bedrock principles compare with the principles advocated by the Tea Party? The answer to this question is simple. The principles of Reagan conservatism and the Tea Party are almost identical. The top ten principles of the Tea Party are as follows:
- Every new law must be constitutional
- Emissions trading is unacceptable and must be rejected
- The federal budget must be balanced
- The tax code must be simplified
- Government agencies should be audited for waste and constitutionality
- Growth in federal spending must be limited
- Obamacare must be repealed
- Energy policy should reflect an all-of-the-above approach
- Earmarks must be reduced
- Taxes must be reduced
Not a bad list. In fact, if it included taking back control of public education at all levels from perpetrators of leftwing indoctrination and returning Christianity to the public square it would be complete. As it is and without revision, this list of Tea Party principles it comes much closer to hitting the mark than the mushy, weak-kneed principles of moderation being pedaled by the current Republican establishment. Perhaps true conservatives should look to the Tea Party to be their voice and vehicle, not as a third party but as a collection of concerned Americans who can pull the Republican Party back to the right where it belongs.