Tags: tea | parties | GOP | Reagan

Tea Partyers Offer Lifeline to GOP

Thursday, 10 Dec 2009 06:09 PM

By Richard Viguerie

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The tea party movement, which percolated only months ago, is beating the Grand Old Party, Rasmussen reports.

That's amazing — and good — news. A nascent grass-roots movement is more popular than a long-established political party.

Republican Party leaders should be embarrassed. Instead, the Republican establishment disdains this populist uprising. Instead of embracing this genuine movement, establishment politicians and consultants are calculating how to co-opt, sideline or even defeat the newest phenomenon in politics: tea partyers.

That would be arrogance, not leadership. It could be the downfall of Republican leaders, who have taken the Party of Reagan to the Party of No — meaning: No Ideas, No Leadership, and No Principles.

What's driving the tea party phenomenon? Robert Stacy McCain writes at American Spectator about tea partyer Rhonda Lee Welsch, who says, "‘It's a systemic problem,' discussing the top-down approach of leaders in both parties who seem indifferent to the concerns of ordinary Americans."

People realize that big-government, career politicians aren't going to save America, if it's not too late for that already. Like a modern-day court of Louis XVI, our leaders are disconnected from the people. An uprising is taking place, yet our political leaders seem more interested in playing golf.

As I wrote not long ago: "Americans are concluding more and more that many of the current problems we face are caused by unrestrained and corrupt government. It is becoming apparent to millions of voters the solution lies in electing officials who understand, respect and abide by the Constitution as much as we citizens are expected to follow the law."

The tea party movement, however, is about more than electing new politicians, although that will be one of its consequences. What's happening in the tea parties is that people actually are using the Constitution to ground and form policy choices, and as a constructive means to hold the political establishment accountable.

Our constitutional system of checks and balances is in shambles. Congress refuses to hold the president accountable constitutionally, and the courts refuse to hold the other two branches accountable.

This is why the 10th Amendment is becoming so popular within the tea party movement, and why that amendment is becoming the bane of statists in the political establishment.

The amendment dictates that all powers not given expressly to the federal government in the text of the Constitution are reserved to the states or to the people. It is intended to be a fundamental, "systemic" protection of our constitutional form of government, a failsafe measure against tyranny.

The amendment, which has been in the closet and is dusty, is a natural resource for the "leaderless" tea party movement. The way to restrain the abuses of power, and create a culture of freedom and economic prosperity, is within the Constitution itself.

Tea partyers will use the Constitution, which the three branches of government have disregarded, to tame the beast of tyrannical big government. The 10th Amendment is one key to overcoming what Welsch articulates for all of us as a "systemic problem."

One of the best books I've read in recent years is "The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations," by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.

Read it, and you'll better understand why the tea party movement is surging, and the Republican Party isn't. The book describes the success of leaderless organizations using the analogy of a spider, which dies when its head is cut off, vs. the starfish, which grows a new tentacle when one is cut off.

The great Aztec civilization existed for centuries before the Spaniards arrived on the continent. Cortes told the Aztec leader, Montezuma, "Give me your gold or your life." Montezuma gave Cortes his gold, and Cortes killed him anyway. The Aztec civilization did not survive the loss of its leader. The head of the spider had been cut off.

The Apaches, a leaderless "starfish" society, survived hundreds of years of the Spaniards' trying to do what they did to the Aztecs. As Brafman and Beckstrom write: "You wanted to follow Geronimo? You followed Geronimo. You didn't want to follow him? Then you didn't. The power lay with each individual."

We are seeing the "starfish" tea party movement with candidates running in both Democratic and Republican primaries. When they are shut out by the party establishments, as happened in New York's 23rd Congressional District, they are running as independents, or under third parties.

"Starfish" tea partyers are learning how to organize, raise money, and use the alternative media in record numbers. They are voicing their opposition to unaccountable big government, and promoting productive policy alternatives, through the guiding principles of the Founders.

We are seeing new leaders emerge from the tea parties, the grass roots, and the alternative media. Like our Founders, they understand their strength of leadership does not come from a political party, but from consent of the governed. That is why they don't hitch their wagons to one person or one party.

Talk radio host Mark "The Great One" Levin discussed recently how Reagan spoke not of "his" administration, but of "this" administration. Levin noted that Reagan understood his power came from the people, not from the office he held.

Reagan didn't read "The Starfish and the Spider," but he understood its principles. The successors to Reagan's GOP do not understand those principles, and seem more beholden to staying in Washington than saving America. They are "spiders."

The tea party movement is determined to save America. Republican Party leaders would be unwise to try to co-opt, sideline or defeat it. Perhaps they should welcome the new leadership into the party as their single most important survival tactic.

This article was originally published at American Thinker.

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