Tea Party or tea party?
posted at 3:32 pm on February 14, 2010 by Slublog
Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the Tea Party has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race to battle for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report.
Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party’s U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy.
The tea party movement has had phenomenal success in joining like-minded people together to protest current government policies and advocate for a return to the country’s foundational principles. The tea party movement is a collective realization on the part of a great number of people that the government has no intention of reigning in spending and that continuing on our current fiscal course will lead to future disaster. Although I agree with the sentiments and beliefs of the tea party movement, I think moving from ‘tea party’ to ‘Tea Party’ is a mistake.
As Bill Whittle argues in his latest ‘Afterburner,’ third party movements rarely succeed. For better or for worse, we are a two-party country and third parties will always be at an electoral disadvantage.
The best way to change the direction of the country is to replace big-spending incumbents with advocates of small government and fiscal responsibility. If the purpose of the tea party movement is to work toward change, creating advantageous electoral scenarios for incumbents is not the way to achieve that goal. The beliefs of the two front-runners in the Nevada GOP primary seem to align with those of the tea party movement. Running a third candidate who has the potential to siphon votes from one of those challengers and give Harry Reid the re-election he does not deserve is an unwise use of time and resources.
This doesn’t mean the GOP incumbent should simply take the votes of tea partiers for granted. If that incumbent has voted to increase spending, or taken action to increase the size of government, they should be challenged in a primary. The GOP has to return to first principles and getting rid of big-government Republicans is an important step in that process.
However, the tea party movement should resist the temptation to run its own candidates and create three-way races. Unless the Tea Party movement wants to be known as the group that kept a lot of incumbent Democrats in power by splitting the conservative/independent vote, it needs to have a more strategic approach to choosing candidates and winning elections.