It has been said that the tea party has actually preserved the Republican Party from sliding towards insignificance by electing to remain a part of its conservative wing rather than attempting to establish a standalone third party. The informational and electoral efforts of the tea party since 2009 have sent a clear message to Americans that there is a sizeable and growing force for limited government and limited taxation. In recent months we have also seen a decided cleaving of some elements of the movement towards vocalizing a social agenda.
It is important to note that the tea party does not yet have the critical mass to become a third party. In the near term it cannot grow to a size that would command a majority without a collaborative effort of other conservative voices within the Republican Party. In some circles this collaboration would seem to be natural and welcomed; in other circles, it can be seen as impolite. But a collaboration of some sort is inevitable.
The tea party does not equal third party and impolite does not equal impolitic. We have seen over the past week just how much the Republican National Committee (in tea party terms “the Establishment”) cannot control these rabble-rousers from the small-p party of change, the tea party. We saw strong evidence of such rabble-rousing this past weekend in the National Convention caucuses in Massachusetts and Louisiana. Delegate slates selected by the State Party pledged to Mitt Romney went down to defeat, down in flames, to well organized efforts by supporters of Ron Paul, the last remaining challenger to a near certain Romney nomination.
It begs the question, “How did the rabble-rousers get so organized?” The better question may be, “Why did the State Party ignore the passion of the most grassroots active, if not well healed, part of their Party?” The fact is that there are many well organized groups within each State whose grass root support has been taken for granted. They may not frequent the same circles as the so-called establishment Republicans but they certainly have a similar passion for conservative and libertarian viewpoints. The establishment types would like them to play by the rules. These new insurgents simply said, “We just did and we beat you fair and square.”
It remains to be seen but I suspect these insurgents do not desire to undermine Mitt Romney as much as to have an influence over Party platform. In true tea party form, they want to be heard. They want to upset but not up-end the status quo. But we will have to wait and see. Rule 38 of the Republican National Committee may well leave open the question of constitutionality of the Unit Rule that binds any delegate to a certain unanimous group vote. Does this leave a chance for a convention challenge to Mitt Romney from Ron Paul supporters, or others? I hope not.
For the record, I supported Mitt Romney in 2008 and I support him in 2012. I hope this challenge to authority is a warning shot across the bow to the RNC leadership but not a direct hit. If it changes the outcome of the Convention or serves to distract the Romney Campaign from its’ daily duty to win in November to winning in August, it is not a good thing for America.
America needs to relieve itself of the Obama Administration. It sorely does. More importantly, it needs to install a Romney Administration. It is time to forget about any illusion of Ron Paul, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich winning the nomination. Not in this year divisible by four, at least. The collective goal of those right-minded individuals ought to be, must be, to win back the Presidency in 2012. And along the way, it must secure the House majority and fight to at least win a slim majority in the Senate in order to get the gavel back from Harry Reid.
The Presidency will come down to winning the Battleground States. It always seems to. Massachusetts being the home of Mitt Romney may not be enough to carry the State against President Obama. One may have to leave that burden to voters in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and the like. The heavy lifting in Massachusetts must be for the reelection of Senator Scott Brown and a number of Congressional candidates who have a shot, however slim, of infiltrating the delegation. There are several who might do so with the right combination of dedicated grassroots support and adequate financial backing.
This is the shoreline where establishment meets insurgency around a candidate. A good candidate is the fuel that burns. The establishment can provide the financial resources to a campaign as heat; the insurgency has demonstrated it can provide the oxygen.
Fuel, heat and oxygen. It is the fire triangle. Without each element, there is no flame. It is high time that our feuding Party factions stop messing with the Political Fire Triangle. Deprive the triangle of heat or oxygen and the fuel will not burn. You can ask any Fireman.
3 responses to “On the Political Fire Triangle: Essay for May 5, 2012”
As usual Tom, a very insightful way to describe the combination of elements needed for victory.
I think it is important to recognize that the tea party includes a sizeable number of independant conservatives. We are not part of the Republican party for a reason.
We are not necessarily going to march lock-step to the tune set by that party.
While the tea party cuts a wide swath through many political philosophies few would argue that the Republican Party offers a more comfortable home than that of the Democrats. Philosophical differences between the parties seem much more distinct at the personal and ideological level on the playing field of local elections than at the Washington level run by the political class. Thanks for the comment.