The limits of the “TEA Party” – it’s not a political party

I like everything I read about the so-called “TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party” organizers, but now they need to take the next step. Rallies and protests and email lists are great. But it doesn’t put better candidates on the ballot or get those candidates elected.

One of the best things about the TEA Party folks is their courage to speak out and their commitment to reach more people. Too many Republicans are tired and frankly flat-liners when it comes to basic communication. The GOP can learn from the TEA Partiers. Townhall.com columnist Meredith Turney recently wrote:

“With the ascent of the Internet, modern political warfare is now increasingly waged online. The Obama presidential campaign raised millions of dollars through the Internet last year, and in doing so set a groundbreaking benchmark for utilizing social media to engage voters. Conservatives have openly acknowledged their fatal ineptitude at marshalling support via the Internet. But conservatives are quick studies and they’re learning from their counterparts how to bypass old media and communicate directly with their base.”

Turney quotes the French philosopher Voltaire, “To hold a pen is to be at war,” and writes:

“Today, the keyboard is the pen’s equivalent. Conservatives must take hold of the 21st century’s mightiest weapon, their family computer, and begin inundating the world’s information source with messages of personal responsibility, authentic hope, and freedom.”

The problem is, conservatives have been researching, writing, and outlining solutions for almost every conceivable public policy problem we face – they just haven’t been reaching enough people with their solutions. And they haven’t been doing the necessary work to elect candidates who will then push the correct agenda.

Coast to coast there are free market think tanks and social conservative activist organizations. But there are still very few good candidates who show up on the ballot and get elected.

Another Townhall.com columnist, Frank Turek, recently quoted from author Mark Levin’s book “Liberty and Tyranny“:

“Republican administrations-with the exception of a brief eight-year respite under Ronald Reagan-more or less remain on the glide path set by Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. … Republicans seem clueless on how to slow, contain, and reverse the Statist’s agenda. They seem to fear returning to first principles, lest they be rejected by the electorate, and so prefer to tinker ineffectively and timidly on the edges. As such, are they not abandoning what they claim to support?”

We are heading into a very important election year to say the least. In Illinois, candidate petitions are being circulated for those who wish to run for party or public office. Now is the time for TEA Partiers to transition from an outside protest group to an inside counterinsurgency.

The title of Frank Turek’s column is “Democrats Mislead, Republicans Fail to Lead.” Actually, plenty of Republican candidates are misleading Republican voters as well.

Turek is absolutely correct when he writes:

“Yes, many Republicans have abandoned what they claim to support-the very conservative principles that when properly articulated would not only get them elected, but save the country from the harmful statist policies now being imposed. A sizable majority in this nation wants conservative solutions including a tort-reformed free-market healthcare system, fiscal responsibility, restrictions on abortion, and the protection of natural marriage, which is the bedrock of civilization.”

The problem is, you can’t beat Democrats or Republicans-in-Name-Only (RINOs) without better candidates. Our TEA Party friends need to run for Republican Precinct Committeeman. Where viable, they need to run for local office, for state representative, for state senator, or for Congress.

It’s up to every individual to go to school and learn what it’s going to take to run and win. Protests and rallies are great, but electoral politics is the door to policy reform.

©2009 John Francis Biver