Monday, January 30, 2012

Beating back the Tea Party "Establishment"

Erin McPike--writing at RealClearPolitics--asks the question "Is the Tea Party Losing Its Grip on the GOP?" She takes as a given the Tea Party movement's opposition to Romney and points to Gingrich's sagging campaign in Florida as evidence that the movement is losing influence:
An official endorsement Saturday night from last year's Tea Party standout, Herman Cain; an all-but-official backing from longtime Tea Party darling Sarah Palin; and the support of the Tea Party Express have not lifted Gingrich back over Mitt Romney in the Florida polls. That weakened clout has been accompanied by the Republican establishment's full-throttle charge at Gingrich's past -- to great effect with the primary here just one day away.
And of course, she repeats the "establishment" mantra, something very few pundits seem capable of ignoring. But look at the fundamental assumptions she is making, that Palin, Cain, and orgs like the Tea Party Express exercise some kind of power over the movement and define what the movement wants, as a matter of course. If there is any national figure that can claim to have been at the forefront of the movement, that figure is Michelle Malkin. And just today, Malkin has openly endorsed Santorum in a piece that is highly critical of Gingrich. It's worth reading, because it lays out the truth--in my opinion--of what Gingrich really is.

McPike recognizes that Gingrich is not quite what he appears to be, to her credit:
Though Gingrich has embraced the Tea Party -- and many of its leaders have hugged him back -- he doesn’t fit the movement’s mold. The Romney campaign knows this and has had no qualms about highlighting that fact.
But she still assumes some sort of general agreement in the movement, that Gingrich is the preferred candidate from what is left. Those of us that sympathize with the Tea Party movement (like me) and those of us that consider ourselves part of the movement need to avoid this kind of groupthink labeling, for it is exactly a part of what the movement was a reaction to.

I like Sarah Palin, there's no question about it. I don't always agree with her, but I respect that she at least attempts to speak to plain truth. Ditto for Bachmann, Cain, and other defacto Tea Party leaders. But I'm not prepared to surrender my own positions in service to theirs. I'm especially not prepared to allow that orgs like the Tea Party Express or RedState speak for me, that such orgs have any kind of authority to decide who the "real conservative" is or anything of the sort.

And make no mistake, those orgs--along with some national figures--want the power to do just that, want to dictate proper membership in the movement. And by doing so, they are--in fact--attempting to establish a hierarchy of leadership, a--for all intents and purposes--new Establishment. And that just can't happen.

As to Gingrich's fall from grace in Florida, McPike assumes it's the assault from the Republican establishment that is the cause. But she ignores the Rubio effect. Rubio defeated a true establishment candidate in his run for the Senate, and he did it with heavy support from the Tea Party movement. Now, he has all but endorsed Romney in Florida. This is certainly one of the reasons for Gingrich's collapsing support. And it hardly meshes with the "Gingrich is the Tea Party's candidate" narrative. Rather, it demonstrates that Gingrich is the Tea Party Establishment's pick, and that this Establishment is not just not going to work. Thank God.

Cheers, all.


  1. Didn't Christie, Tea Party darling openly endorse Romney, or is he a part of the "establishment" now? This to add to Rubio. Ann Coulter openly bashed Gingrich... This whole thing is rather bizarre to me. Apparently it is hard to understand that people who look favorably on Tea Party are able to think independently, or assess the chances of candidates against Obama for themselves.

    I think it has a lot to do with a general laziness on the part of the media today. It is much easier to stuff everything into a neat little box (hacking away any limbs that don't fit) than do a real analysis.

  2. Sure, I think lazy thinking is big part if it. But another part of it is that there are some people who WANT to be the leaders of the movement, who want the power, and who are not above betraying the core principals that spawned the movement in order to achieve their personal goals.