The Tea Party victories of last year weere even more successful in some places than many realized. For example, here in New Hampshire, a prominent Tea Party activist really pissed off our GOP Establishment, and got elected state party chair. And once in office, he continued to piss them off.
Until this week, when he resigned.
This brought up something that I’d had kicking around in the back of my mind, but never quite realized consciously: I don’t think the Tea Party movement is really ready for leadership. Nor are they interested in it. Nor are they qualified for it.
The Tea Party represents a lot of people that generally don’t have a lotof interest in politics. The reason they are interested in politics now is because the people they’d entrusted to look after matters had let them down — and let them down hard. That’s when they decided to exert their Constitutional prerogatives and start taking things back into their own hands.
This was meant as a warning — a “see what we can do if you fail badly enough?” move. It was a demonstration of power. And in some cases — such as the GOP chairmanship here in NH — the lesson was driven home a wee bit too forcefully.
The message of the Tea Party movement, as I see it, is “we don’t want to come in there and take charge. But if you don’t stop screwing it up, we will.” And in the process. a lot of mistakes will be made. Some people who aren’t quite up for office will find themselves in positions they aren’t fit to hold.
But it will get rid of the old rascals. And very few of the accidental leaders will stick around — they aren’t driven into politics, like most of us are.
No, the real value of the Tea Party movement isn’t in taking over politics or a party. It’s in keeping those who are interested in poiltics on the straight and narrow, to smack them around every now and then when they go too far astray. Like, for example, the obscene spending explosions of most of the last decade that have sent the federal debt to its astronomical levels.
Politically, I’m not that fond of either Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann. If it came down to those two, I’d probably vote for Romney, but I wouldn’t be happy about it. But if you look at how the campaign is going, Romney has been moving more and more towards the right, even trying to talk like a Tea Partier. I don’t know how sincere it is, but he’s saying the right things, and I think he’s smart to at least try to keep some of those promises should he have the opportunity.
But that’s what I’m thinking currently, and it also explains why so many career pols simply don’t get the Tea Party. They think of them as just another faction of politicos, another group of people out for power. They aren’t interested in taking power; they’re interested in keeping power out of the hands of the pinheads. If that means they have to take it themselves briefly, then that’s their civic duty. But it won’t be for long — they have lives of their own to get back to.
You want to get rid of the Tea Party? Here’s what you have to do. Just listen to them. Figure out what their biggest beefs are, and do something about them. They don’t have the interest for a long, dragged-out fight.
But they just might have the interest — and strength — in a quick, brutal one. And they will not lose easily.