2008 was a disastrous year for the GOP. Republicans lost the presidency and did not regain control of the House or Senate. The rise of Barack Obama and an extreme liberal agenda threatened everything that conservatives hold dear, not the least of which was the very core of the constitutional republic in which we live.
2009 was better than expected. Not only did President Obama prove to be much more impotent than expected even with Democratic control of two branches of government, but the Tea Party was formed to take the constitutional conservative message to the masses. This groundswell of enthusiasm resulted in the 2010 capture of the House and the 2014 capture of the Senate. Then, the wheels fell off the bus.
The Tea Party suffered from a few mistakes they made early on and several bigger mistakes they made in recent years. I’ve spoken to several Tea Party leaders over the last few months, including a pair of people who were involved before the Tea Party even had a name. What I’ve learned is that as we move forward with our plans to launch a following the election, there are certain landmines we need to avoid.
First and foremost, we must remain true to the philosophy that guided our founding fathers and that should guide us today. The spirit of caution that enabled the creation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is righteous because it allows us to foresee pitfalls from our actions. The Tea Party operated from anger and passion. These are necessary qualities for us to harness within our new party, but there’s a difference between being aggressive and being foolhardy. Many decisions made by the Tea Party were foolhardy, including the choice to keep everything spread out with no central leadership.
As argued by the original Federalist Party, the ideal government, whether for a nation or for an organization like the Tea Party, is to have appropriate checks and balances between national and regional leadership. American government today is lopsided with the federal government holding way too much power. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the Tea Party chose to do the opposite by having the power lopsided towards the local, state, and regional organization while having no real central leadership. As we form our new party, we will maintain the proper balance that the founding fathers adopted and that we envision for the nation itself. The states should share power with the federal government, not act as subordinates.
A conservative revival is impossible within the GOP because the Republican Party knows we won’t vote Democrat. They know that we are stuck with them. They herd us around and keep us in line with fear of what a Democrat victory will do instead of giving us the conservative solutions we want.
Moreover, there are those who will point to other preexisting third parties that already have an infrastructure. We went down that road initially and it was eye-opening. The infrastructures they’ve built over their decades of existence will not yield a combined 1% of the vote this year. In fact, it’s very possible that no third party other than Greens and Libertarians will get 1/10th of 1% of the vote despite having the worst major party candidates in modern history. As I wrote yesterday on :
To break through the barrier that surrounds the two-party system, a party must have extreme velocity. It’s like trying to leave the earth’s atmosphere. A rocket must achieve 33X the speed of sound in order to pull away from Earth’s gravitational pull. Breaking through the barrier of the two-party system requires a party to grow quickly with a modern viral strategy and have enough fuel (money) to sustain those speeds. Every third party that I looked at has as much of a chance of being viable in national elections as a 747 has of going to the moon.
The third pitfall we will avoid is contamination from “faux-conservatives.” We’re already seeing several third party initiatives springing up; I’ve spoken to at least two dozen new party leaders who have diverse ideas on how to move forward. Thankfully, the majority are pushing for a constitutional conservative party and they will be able to work under our umbrella (or we can work under theirs) once actual parties are established and grown. Some, however, are very clearly heading towards a “right-leaning” variation of a party, even co-opting the word “conservative” while espousing ideas that are more aligned with John McCain or Mitch McConnell than Mike Lee or Ted Cruz. These parties are wanting to essentially be the GOP without influence from the alt-right. That would be better than what we have today, but it won’t solve the core problem of bringing our constitutional republic back to its roots of holding to (true) conservative philosophies.
The last landmine we’ll discuss here is the biggest. Money and corruption ruined the sanctity of the Tea Party movement. Millions of dollars were donated to Tea Party organizations that used only a fraction of their funds to promote conservatism or boost conservative candidates. This turned the movement into a cash cow for the few. Our party will maintain strict transparency in its fundraising and expenditures. Moreover, we are adopting a model similar to GoFundMe that allows supporters to give their money to specific causes and candidates rather than dropping their money into a dark hole with hopes that it will do good. There are sharks out there who see movements and parties as ways to profit. They will not be allowed to engage with us.
We have an opportunity after the election to bring principled leadership back to the halls of American government. It won’t be easy, nor will it happen without attacks from every angle. We know that it must happen for America to survive, which is why we’re willing to raise our hands to be counted.
Will you raise your hand?