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Tea Parties Richard Falknor on 09 Nov 2010 11:31 am

Post-Election Action Menus for Tea Partiers & Conservatives

Tea Partiers and grass-roots conservatives have all had time by now to digest the victories (and disappointments) at the ballot-box last week.

As we have been writing, the real work begins now; serious action is what we should be about. 

While we hope that the Republican leadership in both chambers has come to terms with their past and reconfigured their outlooks (the foregoing link is to the TARP vote) positively toward the long march to smaller government, we also don’t need to be trapped any more by undue deference to the judgment of GOP celebrities.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker-presumptive John Boehner (the foregoing link is to the Medicare Prescription Drug vote) have both made their share of missteps over the last decade.

Our situation is sufficiently serious that Tea Partiers and conservatives themselves should not hold back from putting forth their own recommendations to meet a variety of challenges both nationally and locally.

Of course, in whatever Republican politician is the flavor of the moment (and that may include some Tea Party favorites), we may find some policy weak spots where he or she needs to be helped to a better mind. A good current example is senator-elect Rand Paul’s questionable statement on cutting defense spending which may well need to be increased.

“Earmarks Aren’t Even the Beginning: Our trouble isn’t the symbolism, it’s the substance.

What would we do without Andy McCarthy’s polymath skills in wise policy? Last Saturday the former Federal prosecutor explained in a National Review on Line (NRO) post- –

“In offering himself as the next speaker of the House after last Tuesday’s sea-change election, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed of about 800 words. The word ‘debt’ is not one of them, nor does the concept appear. That’s a bit odd, no?

The debt is what the election was about: the growth-killing tab that runs up another $4 billion every day — even days when President Obama is not touring the Far East with 3,000 courtiers in his retinue. The debt, driven by unconstitutional and unsustainable federal intrusions into everything from how much carbon dioxide we emit to which light bulbs we use, is what in turn drives unemployment. The debt, coupled with government’s insatiable appetite for ever-greater control, is what impels the Obama campaign to tax every morsel of achievement, effort, and choice. As former Reagan official Peter Ferrara explains in President Obama’s Tax Piracy, a new pamphlet in Encounter’s Broadside series, production and employment have ground to a halt as a ‘natural result of the incentive effects’ created by the swirl of confiscation and uncertainty.(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Readers are encouraged to take in the entire McCarthy post.

The Pitfalls of Legislating By Slogan

Slogans  — “no more earmarks” to name just one — need to be thought through carefully before being translated into action. It isn’t that “no more earmarks” goals are wrong: curtailing unwarranted Federal spending for purposes that often scandalize the taxpayer. We need a careful weighing of alternatives, one of which would be the strict use of the authorization process requiring outside reports and a transparent committee process before any money can be appropriated for a particular project. The wrong kind of reform could continue the transfer of the key appropriations power away from the Congress to the unelected Permanent Government. (We are talking about broad policy on “earmarks,” not stopping a reportedly pending Senate FY 2011 omnibus appropriations bill said to be loaded with pork.)

But slogans are often a substitute for serious action.  We can imagine some activists saying: “Gee, we have a moratorium on earmarks (whatever that means exactly) and maybe we’ll have term limits and now we can pick the right candidate for president and leave it to the grownups who are taking back Washington from the Obama crowd.”

The problem is that too many GOP grownups were the very ones who helped us get to our current situation. Some (let us hope even more) have mended their ways; others still don’t have a clue about the profound danger we all face from the core of this Administration. And we all share the blame for not calling the GOP leadership on their follies years earlier. 

Events in the last administration went a long way to wean us from our GOP celebrity deference, but did so too late. Popular exasperation and House Republicans (thanks to the Center for Immigration Studies for pointing us to the foregoing link) turned back the Bush-endorsed 2006 McCain-Kennedy immigration amnesty. The conservative pushback should have begun early on, however, strongly objecting to president Bush’s signing into law the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act — if not before, with the “No Child Left Behind Act,” Mr. Boehner’s signature legislation.

Tea Party Goals at All Levels of Government

RedState’s Vassar Bushmills provides us with an “Operations Plan, 2011-2012”–

“This is simply a laundry list of things we believe need to be done, which we will hammer home over the next 635 days before the next campaign season begins. Some we can do right here at RS, some elsewhere, and some we can only urge others to do, but in the last 12 months, RedState has moved mountains. Never forget your collective power.”

Bushmills’ article is a wide-ranging menu well worth taking some time to review. For example, the author includes reinstating genuine civic knowledge in taxpayer-supported curricula.  Indeed, we have missed seeing this particular recommendation on other Tea Party agendas. 

“For our part down here at ground level, one of our main tasks at the Tea Party level will be to take back the public schools and reintroduce Constitutional and American Exceptionalism into the curriculum, starting at 4th grade. And we’ll teach it with enthusiasm! Next stop, college freshman history, where both American History and Western Civ will be required. What fun!”

Just over a year ago, education reformer Mary Grabar had  underscored the fact that – –

“The reaction to the rot in education and culture does not match the reaction to health care, as evidenced by town halls, where one participant told Arlen Specter, ‘You have awakened a sleeping giant.’ Indeed, hard-working, middle-class, middle-aged America has awakened from its stupor on this issue. But wouldn’t it make more sense to try to rescue the values and culture of the West and implant them in the minds of the young in a way that is associated with intellectualism (as in fact it is)? If we did, we would not be reacting in panic to such issues as government health care (with the fires of Afghanistan, illegal immigration, and free speech popping up too). In other words, we would not simply be reacting according to a script from the Saul Alinsky playbook, but establishing our rightful place as intellectual leaders.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

We may be able to win many tactical fiscal victories, but if we ignore the K-16 curricula we are toast in the not too distant future.

In the coming weeks, we will try to identify a few concrete state and local objectives that Tea Partiers and conservatives in Maryland and Virginia might consider focusing on.

Stay tuned!

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