The Republican Party should not be quick to turn its back
on the tea party movement following the government shutdown in hopes of staying in power in Washington, American Values Chairman Gary Bauer says.
Bauer, a one-time presidential candidate who also chairs the conservative Campaign for Working Families, says in a Politico editorial column
that there is a "significant gap between perception and reality" when it comes to the tea party movement.
And he makes clear the real values of the movement are not the "radical and racist tea party of the left wing imagination."
Real tea party supporters are a collection of Americans and grassroots groups who support reducing the size of the government and electing candidates who will help them meet those goals, said Bauer.
But supporters have been labeled with names like "hostage takers" by President Barack Obama, "terrorists" by Vice-President Joe Biden, and "anarchists" by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he pointed out.
"Those are just the attacks from liberal office-holders," said Bauer. "Left wing pundits and activists have been even more vicious."
Such attacks have led to a change in public opinion, he wrote. A recent Pew Research Center survey
showed that nearly half the respondents have an unfavorable opinion of the tea party movement and less than one-in-three view it favorably.
But putting the tea party movement aside would be "suicidal" for the GOP, Bauer said.
The views of most tea party supporters, said Bauer, are "well within the mainstream" and most of those involved are the middle class voters.
He admitted some tea party politicians have made "tactical mistakes," but the GOP's future is "inextricably linked" to the tea party movement, as most of its supporters identify or lean Republican.
"The tea party is not an extremist fringe — it is the mainstream of the Republican Party," said Bauer.
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