Is social conservatism hurting the tea party?

posted at 4:01 pm on March 6, 2014 by Dustin Siggins

Yesterday, Cato Institute senior fellow Michael Tanner made the case at National Review Online that the Tea Party is waning. He identified what he sees as the main problem: the Tea Party is getting mixed up in social issues, which is not only hurting their brand but also driving away libertarians.

It is true that on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party has lost a great deal of influence. Since September, the Tea Party has seen the government reopen without slowing – never mind stopping – the Affordable Care Act. The debt ceiling has been dissolved and raised, respectively, and a budget deal that neutered sequester got bipartisan support.

But I have my doubts that it’s due to a sudden upswell of social conservatism among Tea Party activists. Tanner cites socially conservative comments from Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation and Scottie Neil Hughes of Tea Party News Network, but then ties my former employer Tea Party Patriots (TPP) into his assessment by noting that “during last summer’s congressional town-hall season, Tea Party Patriots was organizing not against Obamacare or raising the debt ceiling, but against immigration reform.”

However, immigration reform is certainly an economic and spending issue as well as a social issue. Furthermore, when the immigration debate started a senior Capitol Hill press staffer asked me about TPP’s possible involvement in the discussions. I was told in no uncertain way by my boss that we were not going to get involved at the time, and we did not – until the costs started coming to light, and constitutional questions were raised.

So why is the Tea Party losing influence in Washington? While Monday Morning-quarterbacking is admittedly easier than being in the trenches during tough times – punditry is a field that does not seem to punish wrong conclusions – I see two major causes.

The first is by far the most important: the leaders in both political parties want power. They may disagree on how to garner the power for themselves, but they would rather gush over a terrible budget deal because suddenly everyone is singing “Kumbaya” than actually do what’s right, constitutional, and best for the country.

The Tea Party threatens that power, and for a while GOP leaders – and some Democrats – were too scared of Tea Party activists to revert fully back to power-grabbing form. Now, however, they are no longer scared of the Tea Party, and thus the grassroots have lost power on Capitol Hill.

Why they’re not scared brings us to the second reason the Tea Party has lost influence: Several tactical errors in the last 14 months gave GOP leaders all the excuse they needed to brush off the Tea Party and revert back to form.

Consider the following:

In early 2013, fiscal cliff legislation was passed into law. It was a pretty awful piece of legislation, complete with a one-year farm bill, delay of the sequester’s impact, and $67 billion in special interest tax loopholes. It also, most importantly, raised taxes on the American people.

Tea Party activists went into attack mode, with Erick Erickson declaring the whole disaster to be “the McConnell tax hike.” Yet what was often ignored was how, due to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the unwise payroll tax cut, taxes were set to skyrocket. So, yes, the fiscal cliff legislation raised taxes, but thanks to the GOP the damage was somewhat limited. Not as limited as it should have been, but limited.

In June of last year, conservatives held the line and voted down the farm bill. Unfortunately, this strong stance was not backed by better legislation that had the backing of a conservative coalition. Which meant things went exactly as Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) predicted at the time: A very bad farm bill in June turned into an atrocious one earlier this year, and passed into law.

Should conservatives have held the line in June? I’m not such a Monday Morning quarterback that I would feel comfortable saying one way or the other. But given the way the bill’s underlying laws are written, unraveling the mess takes time, and multiple reform efforts. So it would have been good to see a more comprehensive strategy be brought to the fore by its opponents, instead of simply saying “no” to the bill that was brought forward. (To his credit, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a leading opponent of the bill, did have his own plan drawn up and proposed.)

Finally, the partial government shutdown is what really did the Tea Party in on Capitol Hill. For two months, Republicans were attacked, and told if they didn’t stand with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) they were RINOs. This is opposed to being encouraged to stand with the Tea Party and fight for fairness for the American people because President Obama was delaying the law’s effects for his allies.

Even Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the strongest fiscal conservatives in the last 20 years, was suddenly in the RINO category to many. All because, in many cases, of a difference of opinion on tactics, not principles.

And so the government partially shut down – fully 17 percent, which is pitifully small to everyone but the mainstream media and opportunistic politicians – and public opinion quickly turned against the Tea Party. The government reopened, the ACA continued to be implemented, and the establishment GOP finally had an excuse to push the Tea Party aside and ignore its principles and influence.

Could things have gone differently? Certainly, GOP power players prefer to spend, spend, spend. But what if the Tea Party had worked with Speaker Boehner on acceptable compromises on the fiscal cliff, the farm bill, and the shutdown?

For example, instead of fighting tooth-and-nail over fully delaying the ACA, conservatives could have pushed for a delay of the individual mandate, keeping the sequester in place, and eliminating the ACA congressional loophole. These would have had full GOP support, likely gotten passed into law, and had the GOP and conservatives focused on the debt ceiling.

Such a tactic would have also given the Tea Party the ability to say to Boehner, “Look, we compromised three times. We played your game. Now play ours, and don’t raise the debt ceiling.” And he would have listened, like he did during the partial shutdown – except with better results.

I would love to see a hard line taken on every issue, but that simply isn’t where things are in D.C. The farm bill is a convoluted mess that takes time to unravel, and the votes and public opinion weren’t there on the ACA/shutdown fight. The country won’t win on a hard-line approach to those situations, especially when small to medium chops can be made that would move the ball int the right direction.

However, on some issues, hard-line approaches are wise on both principles and tactics. With the debt ceiling, for example, conservatives should take a stand. No matter what the political consequences end up being, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in spending to balance the budget – which is what would happen if the debt ceiling was not raised – is worth the consequences in media attacks and complaints from politicians.

Again, the biggest problem here is the political class, its love for power, and its distaste for fiscal responsibility. The Tea Party made some tactical errors, and this gave the power players in the GOP an excuse to ignore the Tea Party. Of course, these same politicians, lobbyists, and media folks also ignore what Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle pointed out a couple of months ago: If it wasn’t for the Tea Party, gun control and amnesty would be law instead of largely editorial page wishes at the New York Times.

But, hey – that doesn’t fit into Washington’s “country bumpkins” image of Tea Party activists.

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Of course not, this is the New America, where character and morals are passe. Do what thou wilt. Kneel at the alters of Hedon and Mammon. Mingle with the temple prostitutes! Secular humanistic utopia is going to be awesome! It may only last a decade, but you sure will enjoy the heck out of it!

Murphy9 on March 6, 2014 at 4:04 PM

The TEA Party should be Fiscally focused. That is the uniting force behind it.

portlandon on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

The Tea Party never had the influence the media thinks it had. TP has been depending on politicians to fix what politicians broke. For every Ted Cruz you get in there, there will be 100 Marco Rubios waiting to lie to you and stab you in the back.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

TL, DR.

Bigbullets on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Too long, didn’t read.

Can I get the abbreviated version.

Bigbullets on March 6, 2014 at 4:06 PM

No.

Well funded establishment candidates are hurting the tea party.

Here in Texas, the past 3 months I have had to endure about 3 radio ads per hour of John Cornyn touting himself as the most conservative man to ever step foot on American Soil and how he fights tooth and nail against anything Obama 24/7 without sleep.

Unfortunately there were no serious, funded, organized candidates to call him out and challenge these claims. Therefore the low info Republican voters here in Texas ate it up.

I am sure McConnell and Graham are employing the same strategy as we speak.

tcufrog on March 6, 2014 at 4:07 PM

conservatives could have pushed for a delay of the individual mandate

TED CRUZ!

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Yes. The TP was formed on principles that have nothing to do with the SoCon agenda.

MJBrutus on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

“during last summer’s congressional town-hall season, Tea Party Patriots was organizing not against Obamacare or raising the debt ceiling, but against immigration reform.”

So now being anti-amnesty makes you a social conservative?

This will upset many libertarians.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Is social conservatism hurting the tea party?

Yes, I mean just look at all the bills they brought to the floor on social issues. This unwavering concentration on socially conservative issues is jamming up everything.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM

The TEA Party should be Fiscally focused. That is the uniting force behind it.

portlandon on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

THIS

jake-the-goose on March 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

The TEA Party should be Fiscally focused. That is the uniting force behind it. – portlandon on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Yes. The TP was formed on principles that have nothing to do with the SoCon agenda. – MJBrutus on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

I agree, the Tea Party should stay focused on fiscal issues.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

No – it’s being hurt by eGOP RINOs and the outright lies of the Dems and their media hacks.

dentarthurdent on March 6, 2014 at 4:12 PM

The TEA Party should be Fiscally focused. That is the uniting force behind it.

portlandon on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

THIS

jake-the-goose on March 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

And yet, the way Ted Cruz handled the debt ceiling vote in the Senate has every monday morning quarterback’s ass in a bind because tactics. If the debt ceiling is not a fiscal focus, what the hell is?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Lack of social conservatism is what hurts the Tea Party.
Fiscal restraint is a social issue, it does not exist in a vacuum.

astonerii on March 6, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Yes, I mean just look at all the bills they brought to the floor on social issues. This unwavering concentration on socially conservative issues is jamming up everything.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM

I would like to see those mythical bills. Accusations without evidence should be discarded.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Yeah, I don’t really get the constantly bringing up Immigration reform as a social issue in the post on National review. It isn’t a social issue. It’s a law & order and fiscal issue.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

So now being anti-amnesty makes you a social conservative?

This will upset many libertarians.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

“SoCon” is the establishment’s dog whistle. I can’t help but wonder if the consultant class really believe the bullshit they’re peddling, or if they’re just happy to rake in the paychecks…?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

I would like to see those mythical bills. Accusations without evidence should be discarded.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Sarcasm.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

So now being anti-amnesty makes you a social conservative?

This will upset many libertarians. – nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

No, being anti-amnesty does not make someone a social conservative.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

So now being anti-amnesty makes you a social conservative?

This will upset many libertarians. – nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:08 PM

No, being anti-amnesty does not make someone a social conservative.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Being anti-amnesty makes you “isolationist” and “nativist.” Or is “anti-immigrant” the latest buzzword? I can never keep up.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Sarcasm.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Wasn’t accusing you, speaking more to the other people who buy this bullshit.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Personally when I think if the TP, I think of small limited government. Social conservatives aren’t for small govt.

MoreLiberty on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

No, being anti-amnesty does not make someone a social conservative.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Phew! ;)

bazil9 on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

It’s why I like to use the word, “wrong” to describe such people. It never goes out of style :-)

MJBrutus on March 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

“SoCon” is the establishment’s dog whistle. I can’t help but wonder if the consultant class really believe the bullshit they’re peddling, or if they’re just happy to rake in the paychecks…?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Reminds me of a certain troll obsessed with that word.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

I don’t really get where 2 party leaders making comments on gay marriage and abortion equates to the Tea Party focusing more on Social Issues. Did they say the groups themselves were doing something?

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM

No, being anti-amnesty does not make someone a social conservative.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Tell that to Tanner. He thinks it is.

nobar on March 6, 2014 at 4:19 PM

While you’re right that you cannot attribute all of the Tea Parties issues into Social issues, I believe your assessment is a little on the dubious side as well. The Tea Party has been experiencing waning support among the overall population for years now, and the Government Shutdown was just the most recent event to damage that movements reputation.

My own assessment, is that the Tea Party movement has been hurt by a myriad of things. That X, Y, and Z factions have taken it over, that is isn’t focused on spending and liberty issues anymore, that the media has spent years taking potshots at it, that people claiming to be leaders within the movement turned out to be poor self promoters, etc etc etc etc.

All that said, the underlying conditions that led to the creation of the Tea Party movement are still in place. The same unrest and discontent from before remains. A new spiritual successor movement could pop up at any time, with the right spark.

When that does, hopefully they’ll still fixated on just a few specific issues, and won’t allow their brand to be used by every political hack under the sun.

WolvenOne on March 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Personally when I think if the TP, I think of small limited government. Social conservatives aren’t for small govt.

MoreLiberty on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

In fairness, I consider myself a social conservative. I also think that as per the constitution, social issues are left to the states. I’m not opposed on principle to an unborn protection amendment to the constitution, but that’s not an easy process, and there’s a reason for that. Absent such an amendment, let the state legislatures handle that sort of stuff. It’s what the framers would want.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Geez, its amazing how the socons are to blame for everything. When the Establishment loses, its the socons, when the Tea Party loses its the socons.
But when these guys win its “all them”
I will say the Tea Party is being hammered by the MSM and Establishment propaganda machine, just like the socons before them.

Iblis on March 6, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Maybe Tanner should contemplate the libertarians historical (and wildly popular) political platform and contemplate his own navel for a beat or two longer before blaming so-cons for conflicting with his preferred Tea Party principles.

I’m a fan of limited govt, I’m also a so-con, and I can’t stand Ron Paul. I’m also a fan of pragmatism, or what has been referred to as “the art of the politically possible”, which doesn’t seem to be a concept ‘tarians embrace at ALL well. And neither do some of the so-cons, quite frankly.

There isn’t a single faction of the right that doesn’t have a target on it’s back and the circular firing squad isn’t helping. So-cons aren’t going away. The TP so lovingly claimed by Ron Paul/Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachman ad nauseaum isn’t going away either. It comes in 99 different flavors – they just had a little IRS setback.

Thanks for noticing, Tanner. I’m curious as to why he isn’t as concerned about the Libertarian Party’s fail to rise at all, though.

It seems relevant.

Recon5 on March 6, 2014 at 4:21 PM

This calls for a recycled comment (from the “about that poll” thread)

Tell you what: find a GOP willing to stand up for anything, and we can start talking about winning. So far, they all seem concerned about making it clear that “this is not the hill to die on.”

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 6, 2014 at 2:16 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 6, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Is the TEA Party a Party..?

d1carter on March 6, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Is social conservatism hurting the tea party?

Not that I’m aware of Dustin.

Bmore on March 6, 2014 at 4:24 PM

And to what Party does the Ruling Class belong..?

d1carter on March 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

And to what Party does the Ruling Class belong..?

d1carter on March 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The “both” party. ;)

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

dayum this is Allah longform on stilts! we get it Hot Air. You’re establishment, we’re dragging you down.

DanMan on March 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The tea party’s impact in the next election will be felt by establishment candidates when we stay home. It’s going to be a cold day in hell before I vote for another squish.

Corporal Tunnel on March 6, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Social conservative = someone who embraces policy positions the Republican Party just doesn’t want to address at all right now ever.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:26 PM

If your listening to Karl Rove, yes. In reality, no.

jake49 on March 6, 2014 at 4:27 PM

The Tea Party never had the influence the media thinks it had. TP has been depending on politicians to fix what politicians broke. For every Ted Cruz you get in there, there will be 100 Marco Rubios waiting to lie to you and stab you in the back.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

gryphon nails it

DanMan on March 6, 2014 at 4:27 PM

B9 (waving at ya, miss you gf)

CoffeeLover on March 6, 2014 at 4:27 PM

(Raises Hand…)
Er…umm…Dustin, kiddo, you do realize you are posting on a website founded by a Reagan, or Social, Conservative, we call the Boss Emeritus, Ms. Michelee Malkin?

Social Conservatives certainly have not harmed the popularity of this website. They do not hurt the Tea Party, either.

“Fiscal Conservatives”, i.e., Social Libs, seems to be mainly a NE and Left Coastal thing. The overwhelming majority of Americans in that see of Red States on your Electoral map, are still just plain ol’ Conservative Americans.

kingsjester on March 6, 2014 at 4:28 PM

What does President McCain and President Romney have to say about this?

faraway on March 6, 2014 at 4:28 PM

OT:

Finally. An app worth having.

BobMbx on March 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

The Tea Party has been experiencing waning support among the overall population for years now,

WolvenOne on March 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Years huh? Maybe you’re right. They were much bigger back in the 1950s.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

What does President McCain and President Romney have to say about this?

faraway on March 6, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Didn’t they lose because they were too socially conservative?

Or something?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

gryphon nails it

DanMan on March 6, 2014 at 4:27 PM

You flatter me, sir. Now the question is, what are we going to do about it?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:30 PM

OT:

Finally. An app worth having.

BobMbx on March 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

lol! Wake and Bake(on)!

Murphy9 on March 6, 2014 at 4:30 PM

But is the TP focusing on SoCon issues? We’re certainly told that, but by the establishment press – which also describes it as racist and extremist. I don’t really get that from my more direct exposure on line.

PersonFromPorlock on March 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

personally, i think that all aspects of social conservatism definitely hurt the goals of the tea party.

in my view, the tea party is and ought to be about fiscal issues. period. other things can wait. runaway fiscal irresponsibility by both entrenched Parties must be stopped.

WaldoTJ on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Does HotGas hurt the Conservative cause?

idesign on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

For example, instead of fighting tooth-and-nail over fully delaying the ACA, conservatives could have pushed for a delay of the individual mandate, keeping the sequester in place, and eliminating the ACA congressional loophole. These would have had full GOP support, likely gotten passed into law, and had the GOP and conservatives focused on the debt ceiling.

Hmm, as I recall, these things *were* tried first. For example, the congressional ACA loophole – that thing *passed* in the first place because it *didn’t* have “full GOP support” against it. To presume “full GOP support” behind a subsequent effort to undo it? Really?

And conservatives *weren’t* pushing for Obamacare implementation delays – subsequently told by Obama, Democrats, and GOP leadership that such a thing wasn’t going to happen? Odd, I remember people goofing on Obama for refusing to delay like conservatives wanted, but then turning around and delaying it himself.

What am I missing here?

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

My own assessment, is that the Tea Party movement has been hurt by a myriad of things. That X, Y, and Z factions have taken it over, that is isn’t focused on spending and liberty issues anymore, that the media has spent years taking potshots at it, that people claiming to be leaders within the movement turned out to be poor self promoters, etc etc etc etc.

All that said, the underlying conditions that led to the creation of the Tea Party movement are still in place. The same unrest and discontent from before remains. A new spiritual successor movement could pop up at any time, with the right spark.

When that does, hopefully they’ll still fixated on just a few specific issues, and won’t allow their brand to be used by every political hack under the sun.

WolvenOne on March 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Your assessment is valid, but I think the most damaging event to the TEAParty was when SarahCuda decided not to run. She was the natural leader of the TP, and could still be if she do desired.

BobMbx on March 6, 2014 at 4:33 PM

I think the Libertarian, moderate, and independent tents needs to be less exclusive and include social conservatives. Oh, doesn’t work that way does it? That’s what I thought. Please, tolerance is a one way street.

Dongemaharu on March 6, 2014 at 4:33 PM

The Tea Party has been experiencing waning support among the overall population for years now,

WolvenOne on March 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Years huh? Maybe you’re right. They were much bigger back in the 1950s.

Rocks on March 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

LOL

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:33 PM

What’s a few tens of millions of dead babies when there are elections to win.

#GOPandthemtharhills

Bishop on March 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM

What am I missing here?

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

The same thing most of America is. Politicians get a taste of power, and they’re always going to want more in the current climate. ALWAYS. You can take it to the mother-fluking bank. And every time we roll around to CPAC, every goddam year, the questions on everyone’s mind are:

Which politician or would-be politician will give the keynote?

Who will win the presidential straw poll?

How and why has the tea party lost influence, or how can we make it look like they have?

Where are the competitive congressional races, and what will it take to win?

The last question on people’s minds seems to be the first one that should be:

What am I willing to sacrifice to avert the coming shitstorm?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM

The tea party was a spontaneous demonstration against what good American people saw was an out of control government that saw no barriers to it’s own scope and limit. I believe the Obamacare votes were the unifying event in the beginning. We on the right just aren’t as activist and professionally organize as the left. It’s surprising that the tea party had as much influence as it had thru the 2012 elections. Now four years after that and 6 years overall of being maligned by the professional left, the media, and popular culture through movies and tv, it isn’t surprising that many of the original tea party people just aren’t out in the public square on a day like today. I’m sure there will be a resurgence as the next elections approach, but most of us just want to be left alone and live life.

And yes, its fine for the Tea party to be organized around limited government and taxes.

Murphy9 on March 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM

You expand your reach you expand your members you expand the views.

It was natural for some overlap to occur.

Bishop on March 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Personally when I think if the TP, I think of small limited government. Social conservatives aren’t for small govt.

MoreLiberty on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

There are some who seem to be for the conservative version of a nanny state, which is an oxymoron.

V7_Sport on March 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Oh, wait – amnesty/illegal immigration is a ‘social’ issue? Really? I thought it was about the rule of law, law enforcement, fiscal responsibility and capability, etc.

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Hey…. did HotAir hire Dustin, the author of this piece? He refers to his former employment, and there’s no bio on the bottom. His last couple of pieces have had this bio wherein he’s working for some outfit.

And Dustin has had a lot of posts lately–about as many as Erika. Is he now a member of the HotAir team?

If so, welcome aboard!

Vanceone on March 6, 2014 at 4:37 PM

WaldoTJ on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Because, after all, what’s a little ambivalent morailty and situational ethics, as long as an election is won?

kingsjester on March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

When the economy is good, nobody cares if a bunch of foreigners want to come to the US and work menial jobs. When we are suffering the effects of elitist central planning and the economy is devastated, we are told to worry about a bunch of foreigners coming here to work menial jobs.

It’s all a red herring. Is it conservative to fall for every little fake issue put forth by your betters?

Another Libertarian on March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

SoCon here. I’m not much of one for “setting pearls before swine” as the saying goes. Neither does the idea of getting into a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the Republican party appeal to me all that much.

So, if the party rejects SoCons at a national level, I’ll simply accept that for what it is and focus my time, energy and efforts at the local level.

Has nothing to do with “taking my ball and going home”. It has to do with choosing my battles wisely and knowing how best to invest what resources I have at my disposal.

lineholder on March 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Personally when I think if the TP, I think of small limited government. Social conservatives aren’t for small govt.

MoreLiberty on March 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

In what way are social conservatives clamoring for bigger government? Pro-lifers agitating for a Department of the Unborn, with armed agents roaming the streets? Church-goers pining for a Department of the Righteous, regulating to ensure that everyone goes to church at least twice a week, busting for non-compliance, and fining people that don’t sign-up for a subsidized Religious Membership Plan?

Do tell!

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Another Libertarian on March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

“betters”? Bite me.

kingsjester on March 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I wish someone would post the Tea Party platform so I can get up to speed with what issues I’m supposed to focus on.

Oh, and an org chart would be nice too.

kcewa on March 6, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Do tell!

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Don’t be surprised if the answer you get is inflicting the death penalty on a woman who has an abortion.
This argument against Social Conservatism has been going around of late.

lineholder on March 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Don’t be surprised if the answer you get is inflicting the death penalty on a woman who has an abortion.
This argument against Social Conservatism has been going around of late.

lineholder on March 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Killing a woman and her unborn child can be considered capital murder depending on what state you’re in. You mean to tell me the only difference between abortion and fetal homicide is the mother’s desires? That’s pretty bone chilling if you ask me.

/CapitainObvious

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

What is this Tea Party Party we are blaming? I have been to numerous Tea Party events, both of the mega large gatherings in DC, and sponsored numerous Tea Party gatherings at our house. I don’t remember electing anyone to represent me.

David in ATL on March 6, 2014 at 4:45 PM

The $50 million establishment anti-Tea Party campaign continues apace.

It isn’t the Tea Party that’s the problem.

tominsd on March 6, 2014 at 4:46 PM

What is this Tea Party Party we are blaming? I have been to numerous Tea Party events, both of the mega large gatherings in DC, and sponsored numerous Tea Party gatherings at our house. I don’t remember electing anyone to represent me.

David in ATL on March 6, 2014 at 4:45 PM

You could even get on board with someone who says a bunch of stuff you agree with, and that’s no guarantee they will represent you when they actually ascend the corridors of power.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:46 PM

WaldoTJ on March 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Because, after all, what’s a little ambivalent morailty and situational ethics, as long as an election is won?

kingsjester on March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

You mean all those dead people? They weren’t worthy of life anyway.

If we need to ally ourselves with the Nazis pro-choice people to get elected it’s OK. We can just ignore them after the election like we did in 1933.

kcewa on March 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Yeah, I know. Nonetheless, this must be something sent out by TPM for this week because the usage of it to batter SoCons through fear has been pretty noticeable this week.

lineholder on March 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

But yes, let’s do focus on ‘tactical blunders’ of the ‘tea party’. Because nothing out there is the fault of ‘tactical blunders’ on the part of the ‘GOP establishment’, or anything.

I mean, the TP has forced the establishment guys to defer fighting on anything, time and time and time again. It wasn’t Boehner/McConnell/et al making the decision “dont fight this battle, wait for the next one – I mean the next on… no, not that one either – a bit farther down the road…” – no, the TP made them do it!

GOPe *wanted* so very badly to be financially sound, hold spending and debt in check, hold the line on the debt ceiling and budgets (you know, the ones we haven’t had in over half a decade) – but that nefarious TP made them go along with spending and debt limit increases!

Flip Wilson, were he alive today, might replace ‘the Devil’ in his routine – “the TP made me do it!”

*raises a facetious fist in the general direction of the evil TP*

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

What actually hurt the Tea party is the IRS scandal.

Because of the successful re-eletion of Obama in 2012. A lot of people think it’s due to lack of interest in the Tea Party….which is Bull-Shovik.

Had there been no obstructionism from the IRS, Conservative groups would have gotten their message out.

b1jetmech on March 6, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Ask us in Texas if the TP is on the wane. Seems to me its only just beginning. Don’t let these DC power hungry pols convince you otherwise.

neyney on March 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM

But yes, let’s do focus on ‘tactical blunders’ of the ‘tea party’. Because nothing out there is the fault of ‘tactical blunders’ on the part of the ‘GOP establishment’, or anything.

I mean, the TP has forced the establishment guys to defer fighting on anything, time and time and time again. It wasn’t Boehner/McConnell/et al making the decision “dont fight this battle, wait for the next one – I mean the next on… no, not that one either – a bit farther down the road…” – no, the TP made them do it!

GOPe *wanted* so very badly to be financially sound, hold spending and debt in check, hold the line on the debt ceiling and budgets (you know, the ones we haven’t had in over half a decade) – but that nefarious TP made them go along with spending and debt limit increases!

Flip Wilson, were he alive today, might replace ‘the Devil’ in his routine – “the TP made me do it!”

*raises a facetious fist in the general direction of the evil TP*

This raises an interesting question. How can there be “tactical blunders” by a group of people that have never actually been a recognized political organ? Ever Tea Party candidate, for better or worse, has been REPUBLICAN.

Now, don’t get your panties in a bind. I am NOT calling for a third party here. Just observing that if there are tactical blunders, what does it matter as long as the incumbents get to leave office at a time of their choosing with fat retirement packages?
Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM

I agree, the Tea Party should stay focused on fiscal issues.

SC.Charlie on March 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

How do you separate the social from the fiscal? Abortion is a fiscal issue as much as a social one. 53 million fewer people paying into SS or needing all services and goods that people need has so stressed the system that the idea of letting just any old illegal alien into the country, as a type of band-aid, is accepted as “the smart thing to do” by far too many people. The relatively new idea of being, if not proud, at least accepting, of scamming the system, is as much of a fiscal issue as a social one. Brainwashing our children through a leftest educational system that instills the “need” for “green energy” systems that are nothing more than scams and money pits, is both a fiscal disaster and a dumbing down of the social standard, etc. etc.

Mimzey on March 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Is lack of fiscal conservatism hurting the GOP?

de rigueur on March 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM

What actually hurt the Tea party is the IRS scandal.

Because of the successful re-eletion of Obama in 2012. A lot of people think it’s due to lack of interest in the Tea Party….which is Bull-Shovik.

Had there been no obstructionism from the IRS, Conservative groups would have gotten their message out.

b1jetmech on March 6, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Not to mention the also-intended chilling affect that has on people speaking out, joining organizations, etc. When it becomes a very real part of the equation that in doing so you are unquestionably raising yourself as a potential target for political retribution and punishment from the IRS and DC in general… it tamps things down a bit.

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Why does the Ruling Class Party have such a problem with the TEA Party?

d1carter on March 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Obama ran as an unapologetic Christian and God fearing family man. Why can’t we?

faraway on March 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Is lack of fiscal conservatism hurting the GOP?

de rigueur on March 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM

YES.

Murphy9 on March 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Mimzey on March 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Generally speaking, SoCons comprehend fiscal issues, but it’s through the filter of social issues (moral, ethical, societal, etc.) Just like you’ve described.

OTOH, the same cannot be said of FiCons.

I’ve often wondered if that is why it seems like we spend most of our time talking past each other rather than to each other

lineholder on March 6, 2014 at 4:58 PM

This old Liberal needs some tea party help from nice conservatives. I gots tea bags in me pockets. I gots tea bags in me bags. I got tea bags so hidden , you can barely see the Lipton tag poking out my rear. I gots me handle out…..I gots me spout in hand. Where the heck is the party. Do I miss me invite? Sheesh, I’m going back to being Bi

HonestLib on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Is social conservatism hurting the tea party?

…only on Town Hall and Hot Air.

KOOLAID2 on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

The Tea Party was a clean, fiscally focused party with individual liberty and a free economy as it’s focus. I do detect a change towards religious conservatism which makes them no different than your regular GOP members. The Tea party should keep away from trying to legislate morality, from abortion to gay marriage to legalizing marihuana. Controlling peoples behavior by force is no better than controlling peoples productive lives by force. The great appeal of the Tea Party was exactly its silence on social issues.

DC555 on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

yep Midas summed it pretty well too. The Tea Party is a state of mind. And that mind is pretty much singularly focused on the runaway spending, debt and piling on of regulations that won’t allow us to ever climb back.

Remember that old saw about there’s not a dimes worth of difference in the parties? Dustin does note that the thirst for power is all that matters to party leaders. Too bad that power is all about money because that money is our time.

DanMan on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

kingsjester on March 6, 2014 at 4:39 PM

? If you need a sarc tag, we’re farther gone than one would expect.

Our “betters” are of the opinion that our fiat currency is impervious to the exigencies of the real world, that “as a percentage of GDP” has actual value, that the loss of reserve currency status for the dollar either won’t happen or have significant consequence if it does, or something. If the Fed loses its grip on interest rates, servicing our debt will be a problem beyond any unanimity of polling data.

wolfsDad on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Obama ran as an unapologetic Christian and God fearing family man. Why can’t we?

faraway on March 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

His supporters never for a moment actually believed him about that.

Midas on March 6, 2014 at 5:02 PM

The Tea Party was a clean, fiscally focused party with individual liberty and a free economy as it’s focus. I do detect a change towards religious conservatism which makes them no different than your regular GOP members. The Tea party should keep away from trying to legislate morality, from abortion to gay marriage to legalizing marihuana. Controlling peoples behavior by force is no better than controlling peoples productive lives by force. The great appeal of the Tea Party was exactly its silence on social issues.

DC555 on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

…but!…who has been steering the conversation there?

KOOLAID2 on March 6, 2014 at 5:03 PM

The Tea Party was a clean, fiscally focused party with individual liberty and a free economy as it’s focus. I do detect a change towards religious conservatism which makes them no different than your regular GOP members. The Tea party should keep away from trying to legislate morality, from abortion to gay marriage to legalizing marihuana. Controlling peoples behavior by force is no better than controlling peoples productive lives by force. The great appeal of the Tea Party was exactly its silence on social issues.

DC555 on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

When in the bloody blue **** was the last time the Republican Party writ-large tried to legislate fiscal responsibility, let along “religious morality?” Could you possibly be any thicker, dumba$$?

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Libertarians seem to be pretty misunderstood by the conservatives commenting on this post. For one, plenty of libertarians support amnesty on the grounds that it’s the ‘freedom’ to move from place to place. The problem with that singular view is that they can live in a fantasy world sometimes, because they only want to allow that free movement if handouts are severely restricted. Chances of that happening in America are precisely 0. So any libertarian that is pro-immigration is essentially an idealist.

I do agree on the SoCon thing, SoCons in general need to disappear. They do absolutely nothing for Team Red’s brand. They are one of the main reasons the Republican party is doomed — the needle has moved, the culture has changed — SoCons are pining for a time that no longer exists. Look at the polls, Gay Marriage? ~60% favorable, Marijuana? ~60% favorable, Abortion? Probably on its way to 60% favorable.

Does it sound like a winning strategy to be against those things?

Now before you all start calling me a troll, I’m a conservative-turned-libertarian, not a liberal. Most would probably also call me a bigot, racist, homophobe, you name it. So I understand where you SoCons are coming from, but you guys ignore strategy at your own risk.

The ‘Tea Party’ or ‘Republican’ or ‘Conservative’ or whatever platform you’re trying to create needs to look something like this:

Abortion — Safe, legal, rare. Why? You’ll NEVER eliminate it, but you will lose a bunch of votes trying.

Gay Marriage — While I prefer the idea of a ‘civil union’ to ‘marriage’ I don’t think the terms really matter. Let them do what they want, how does it hurt you? Oh yeah I know, you lose more votes!

Marijuana — Get it off Schedule I federally, reclassify it to Schedule V, then frame it as a ‘states rights’ issue from there, let them do what they want. What business is it of yours what people do in their own homes? You think you’re better than a pot smoker…as you go home to smoke a cigarette and drink your scotch? What a bunch of hypocrisy…oh and by the way — you just lost more votes.

Libertarians will probably never end up gaining ground politically on their own, some of our views are a bit too hard for most of the rubes to wrap their heads around (Like abolishing DUI laws and the minimum wage…but I digress). But you conservatives could learn a thing or two from us on how to play the field and WIN.

Last thing — I realize you think your ‘core voting bloc’ will abandon you if you loosen up on the SoCon issues, but guess what guys? That ‘core voting bloc’ is gonna be dead pretty soon, then what? You’re gonna need votes from guys like me.

nullrouted on March 6, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I’m libertarian, and from my perspective, the Tea Party got co-opted by social cons about one month after the 2010 election, when people like Jim DeMint started that “true conservatives” nonsense.

It was a fast ride downhill from there. I don’t think you can even separate “Tea Party” from “social conservative” as this point.

Vyce on March 6, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Our “betters” are of the opinion that our fiat currency is impervious to the exigencies of the real world, that “as a percentage of GDP” has actual value, that the loss of reserve currency status for the dollar either won’t happen or have significant consequence if it does, or something. If the Fed loses its grip on interest rates, servicing our debt will be a problem beyond any unanimity of polling data.

wolfsDad on March 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

We can’t continue on like this forever. No society can. Eventually the world will come around to acknowledge the grand ugly truth of American politics: FedGov has no intention of making good on its debts.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 5:04 PM

In fairness, I consider myself a social conservative. I also think that as per the constitution, social issues are left to the states. I’m not opposed on principle to an unborn protection amendment to the constitution, but that’s not an easy process, and there’s a reason for that. Absent such an amendment, let the state legislatures handle that sort of stuff. It’s what the framers would want.

gryphon202 on March 6, 2014 at 4:21 PM

This..

melle1228 on March 6, 2014 at 5:05 PM

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