Why a Life-Long Republican Left the Party

Image from sodahead.com

A Guest Post by David Benjamin Dull

To start, I feel it is important to explain how I was raised, and where my roots are. My father is a die-hard, Trump supporting, racist, social conservative and his parents were social conservatives as well while my mother is a bit of a hippie, but a conservative hippie.  I was raised to vote Republican and did so starting with George Bush in 2000 when I was 18.  I was never “involved”, never did any research and didn’t pay attention to the issues even though I smoked cannabis, was pro-choice and had close friends who were/are homosexual.

All of that changed, however, in the fall of 2008 when I accidentally ran across a motivational YouTube video for libertarian godfather Ron Paul who was running for the Republican presidential nomination.  Without a shred of hesitation, I am proud to say the words of this modern-day prophet made me openly weep.  For the first time in my life, my worldview was challenged in a way that was informative and more importantly, not condescending, which was needed to get thru to me.

Did I run right outside with my pitchfork and torch, ready to burn down the capitol?  No.  I spent a long time combing the internet for input.  I researched Austrian economics, free-market solutions, non-interventionist foreign policy, individual sovereignty and ending prohibition. I began talking less and listening more.  Eventually, fully confident that my new worldview was solid, I ventured out into the political realm by attending my first Tea Party Tax Day rally in DC in 2010, which featured to my surprise, Ron Paul himself.  And yet, I still didn’t know how to get involved.

I left Baltimore and bought a home in Virginia Beach, and knowing no one political in the area, remained the guy who protests on social media… …until my mother sent me a friend suggestion for a local anarcho-capitalist.  Finally, I had someone in my town I could share my disdain for waste, fraud, and abuse with!  And what’s more, when a mutual friend commented about the Ron Paul 2012 campaign and I jumped right on that asking how I could get involved.  I was directed to attend a dinner in Newport News across the river.  The night of that dinner, I met a dozen libertarians who have become like family.  Never in my life have I ever felt so connected to and loved by a group of individuals, not of my blood.  Together, we took on the establishment, hard!

Luckily for us, there were only two candidates on the ballot in 2012; Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, which enabled a Tea Party/libertarian alliance to not only send 49% of Virginia’s delegates to the Republican national convention, but more importantly, the grassroots alliance overwhelmingly took over the Republican Party of Virginia state central committee and a host of district chairman seats and local unit chairman seats.  We did it!  We won!  Or did we?  With the primary firmly behind us, the “presumptive nominee” was hailed as the savior to the “Obama” problem with the Tea Party falling in line like good little Republicans.  We Ron Paul supporters were soon left out in the cold.  We were scorned for not eagerly volunteering for the nominee.  We were constantly told by establishment trolls that “libertarians belong in the Libertarian Party” and our posts on Republican social media outlets were deleted.  We were called isolationists, dreamers, liberals, and idiots.

When we rallied behind Susan Stimpson for Lt. Governor, who had an impeccable record of cutting taxes and fees while also cutting the budget of Stanford County while remaining temperate on social issues, the Tea Party and other grassroots social conservatives flocked to boisterous hot-heads like Corey Stewart who is in the middle of losing his third statewide race, and EW Jackson who just lost his third statewide race. When the votes were tallied for the first ballot of the seven-way Lt. Governor race, Susan came in second after Jackson, but when the names were put up on the Jumbotron, her name was at the bottom. When she failed to carry the third ballot, I voted for “moderate” (establishment) Pete Snyder because I wasn’t about to let Jackson pull down the ticket with his outrageous statements when Snyder would help libertarian-leaning Ken Cuccinelli win the governorship… which is exactly what happened despite Republicans complaining about the Libertarian nominee, who exit polls show actually took more votes from (D) McAuliffe than Cuccinelli… but I digress.  This was in effect, the beginning of the end of the grassroots revolt of 2012.  The establishment slowly took back the state central and local units.  The Tea Party continued to rally around hot-heads like Corey Stewart year after year.  Many of my libertarian friends, disgusted with the political process and the online nastiness from bigoted conservatives and paid establishment trolls, simply threw in the towel.  Subsequently, the Ron Paul class of 2012 was all but gone by 2014.

To be fair, having left Virginia to seek my fortune in the oil fields of North Dakota in the summer of 2013 and not returning until December of 2015, I was in no position to blame anyone for leaving, and I didn’t.  I did, however, unfurl my libertarian-Republican banner and plant it in the red sand of the Republican Party on last time for Rand Paul in the 2016 presidential primary, but was met with mild enthusiasm.  I saw even less enthusiasm for Trump, but his bigoted and insulting rhetoric somehow positively reached the voters even though it turned off most of the politically active.  The abysmal primary results coupled with the death rattle of the Tea Party in Virginia was the signal to me that “changing it from the inside” was a completely unattainable goal in Virginia Beach and highly unlikely in Virginia.  So I left the party of my father and my grandfather after being undyingly faithful for eight years, somewhat hesitant for another four and actively engaged for the last four.  Truth be told; it’s the best breakup of my life!

David Benjamin Dull is a libertarian activist who has volunteered for a dozen campaigns.  Although admittedly brash and stubborn, he is working to better himself and is currently engaged in growing the Libertarian Party of Anne Arundel County by reaching out to disenfranchised liberals and conservatives as well as independents who lost faith in voting.

The Death of the Tea Party

Today I have the difficult task of writing the obituary for the tea party movement.  Where do I begin?

Well, the tea party movement was an interesting adventure in American politics.  Chapters grew up seemingly organically around the nation; there was no central organization or leadership.  In the early days, they opposed the big government policies and politicians in both the Republican and Democratic Parties, treating both with suspicion.

For the last several years, the tea party movement has been in decline.  Although supposedly non-partisan, almost all have slipped quietly (or not-so-quietly) into the fold of the Republican Party.

10613072_10204123444679426_6712838461521736272_nAs one example, let’s consider the Hampton Roads Tea Party in Virginia.  On their Facebook page, they proudly declare that they are “A fiercely non-partisan group dedicated to the U.S. (and VA) Constitutions, free markets, community-based solutions, and creating a truth-fed fire for Liberty in future generations. Actus non Verbum (Actions not Words)!”

However, during the 2014 election cycle they posted numerous pieces urging their supporters to get behind Republican candidate Ed Gillespie, providing links to volunteer, and offered a Republican sample ballot created by a group called Friends of the Elephant.

HRTPToday, the Hampton Roads Tea Party took yet another step by encouraging members of their group to officially join the Republican Party of Virginia.  Because of these developments, one would be hard-pressed to call the group “non-partisan” any longer.

Now, this situation isn’t unique to Hampton Roads.  For example, in 2013, shortly before the Virginia Republican State Convention, the leader of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party announced that the group would support whichever candidates won that convention regardless of their political positions.  The next year, during the 2014 July 4th parade, one member created posters saying that everyone should vote Republican.  As I was helping them assemble the float, am a long-time member of the group, and was an independent candidate seeking local office, I was able to persuade them not to offer the citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham a message more or less shilling for a political party.

However, I suppose if we are going to look at the issue objectively, many tea parties these days are shells of their former selves, serving as little more than wings of their respective Republican units.  What a pity!  After all, wasn’t the original objective of the tea party to oppose the excesses of both the Democratic and Republican Parties?  Wasn’t the main purpose to adhere to constitutional limitations and fight against tax increases?

I remember back when I first started getting involved with our local tea party I noticed that the local Republican Party always sent a representative to every meeting, not sent to talk, but to observe what was going on.  But for the last several years they have not done so.  Why not?  Well, because there is no need; the tea party has become one of their closest allies.  As another example, the current leader of the Staunton Tea Party is married to the current leader of the Augusta County Republican Party.  The Republicans and tea party members have become pretty much indistinguishable.  And if the tea party’s mission now is strictly wed to the Republican Party mission, it has made itself both redundant and useless.  The tea party did not take over the Republican Party, the Republican Party took over the tea party.

Although there are likely tea parties that still adhere to the original mission, by in large I think it safe to say that the tea party movement has failed.  It had a good run, but the tea party is dead.

Looking Back On the Tea Party

img_1330This morning, fellow Shenandoah Valley blogger Lynn Mitchell asked the question, “Why did the tea party (and libertarians) decide to take over the Republican Party instead of the Democratic Party whose policies they were supposedly against?” Well, as a person who has been involved in tea party politics for a number of years, I wanted to offer my take on the situation.

First off, let me begin by saying that no group is a monolithic unit.  Yes, it is easy to lump people together, to assume that their history, motivations, and goals are unified, but that simply would not be the case.  Anyway, like a number of folks, I joined the tea party while also a member of the Republican Party.  At that time, I had been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the GOP.  I recall saying at the time that the tea party would never have come into being if the GOP held firm to its supposed principles.

Although Republican politicians seemed to employ inspiring rhetoric when it came to limiting the power of the government, their actual track record was pretty poor.  It is tempting to say that the tea party had its start with the election of Barack Obama, but the truth is that for many of us its roots are earlier, the presidency of George W. Bush.

Let’s look back at George W. Bush, shall we?  What do we find?  An exploding national debt, increased federal government control in areas where it had no defined constitutional authority such as education and healthcare, and a troubling and expensive foreign policy based upon misinformation and a neoconservative philosophy.  Only in recent years have Republican officials finally begun to admit what many people in the tea party have known for years, that a lot of things went wrong in the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.

So why did the tea party try to push the Republican Party harder instead of the Democratic?  Well, the GOP was seen as having closer ideological ties, especially given that many of us were disaffected Republicans.  Economically, there was supposedly a closer link between the tea party and what the Republican claimed to stand for.  Has that always been the case?  No.  Perhaps the last, best example of what might be considered a “tea party Democrat” (at least in my mind) is the Bourbon Democrats.  As Wikipedia states:

Bourbon Democrats were promoters of a form of laissez-fairecapitalism which included opposition to the protectionism that the Republicans were then advocating as well as fiscal discipline. They represented business interests, generally supporting the goals of banking and railroads but opposed to subsidies for them and were unwilling to protect them from competition. They opposed imperialism and U.S. overseas expansion, fought for the gold standard, and opposed bimetallism and promoted hard and sound money. Strong supporters of reform movements such as the Civil Service Reform and opponents of the corrupt city bosses, Bourbons led the fight against the Tweed Ring. The anti-corruption theme earned the votes of many Republican Mugwumps in 1884.”

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has not held to these principles in about a century.  Given how much time has passed and the great partisan divide which presently exists, a lot of folks see the Democratic Party as irredeemable.

In order to make a greater impact in politics, some candidates tried running under the unofficial tea party label.  Here in Virginia, one could argue that Jamie Radtke was the first statewide tea party candidate.  In 2012, she challenged former Republican governor and senator George Allen for the Republican nod for U.S. Senate.  In the June primary, she won 23.05% of the vote to Allen’s 65.45%.  However, given Allen’s massive advantage in name ID and fundraising, it wasn’t a particularly shocking a result.

However, after that election, the tea party had changed.  Rather than standing strictly on principle, it had somehow begun to morph into a wing of the GOP.  Originally, the local group disdained both President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.  In the November election that followed, however, we were told that we must rally behind the Republican candidates to defeat Obama and his allies.

In the 2013 contest, the Republican Party of Virginia switched their nomination process from a primary to a convention, presumably to aid gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.  However, that change had a very profound down-ticket result.  E.W. Jackson, who finished last in the 2012 GOP senate primary, began to gain momentum.  In this part of the state, he saw in upsurge in popularity with the tea party, although I would argue he was far more concerned with social issues than the traditional fiscal matters that drove the tea party.  As a result, the regional tea party priorities began to shift again, adopting many of the same principles of groups such as the Valley Family Forum.  Again, prior to this Virginia Republican convention, local tea party goers were informed by the head of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party that the group would support whichever candidates won the GOP nod.

So, to return to Lynn Mitchell’s question, I would say that the reason that the tea party is trying to take over the Republican Party is that it has now become one of a multitude of factions within the GOP.  It no longer stands outside of party politics as originally envisioned.  As such, that fight for control exploded over the weekend in Virginia’s 7th congressional district where Eric Cantor’s ally, Linwood Cobb, was booted for the tea party choice.  A major goal of the tea party these days seems to be to purge the Republican Party of what are seen as big government leaders and politicians.

There is very much an ongoing civil war for the heart of the Virginia Republican Party between those who are primarily motivated to win and those who are motivated by principle (although what that principle happens to be can be a variety of things).  Saturday’s battle is only a continuation of this conflict.

Wexton…Not A Great Choice

Virginia has held several special elections recently and the next one, the race to replace Mark Herring, could decide control of the Virginia Senate.  Recently, Jennifer Wexton, the Democratic nominee in the 33rd, released an ad comparing the tea party to rapists and like-minded criminals.

Here is the ad in all its glory:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXu5d5-3G1w

Do Virginians want a senator who can’t seem to differentiate between a peaceful political movement and those who would commit acts of violence again women?

Based on this ad alone, I think it is safe to say that Jennifer Wexton is not a great choice for the Virginia Senate.

The Tea Party & The GOP

Earlier today, I received a phone call from WHSV TV-3.  The station sought the opinions of the tea party regarding the Paul Ryan budget, Speaker Boehner’s negative comments about organization, and the future between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Although my views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I was happy to offer them this afternoon.

The simple fact, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, is that the Republican Party is searching for a identity and there is a faction within it which is relatively unconcerned with political principle when weighed against political power.  As such, although they will embrace groups like the tea party when it serves their purposes, they will happily jettison these people after the politicians abandon their supposedly shared values.  I believe that Speaker Boehner is one such “flexible” individual which is why I wrote Representative Bob Goodlatte earlier this year (unsuccessfully I might add) urging him to vote against retaining Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

An equally important matter one should ponder is, what path should the tea party take?  Should it be in lockstep with the Republican Party, shun it completely, or perhaps something else entirely?

Anyway, you can find this brief clip on WHSV by clicking on the following link.

Santorum’s Party

Photo by Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press

As the 2012 Republican Presidential race continues, in a move that would certainly be a monumental surprise a year ago, former Senator Rick Santorum has positioned himself as the leading alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.   It is likely that quite of few readers of this article prefer Rick Santorum.  As Mike Huckabee did in 2008, Santorum polls highly among those describing themselves as conservative, especially Christian conservatives, and has done quite well in the both the South and the Midwest.

Is Rick Santorum a conservative?  There is no doubt that he is socially conservative.  But, does he embrace the ideals of Madison and Jefferson who called for a limited federal government bound to the principles of constitutional restraint?  Does he believe, like Barry Goldwater, that Republicans ought to fight against big government programs, such as FDR’s New Deal, that expanded the role of Washington bureaucrats far beyond what Americans had previously known?  Unfortunately for conservatives, as Rick Santorum stated in the following interview from 2008, the answer is no.

Interestingly, Rick Santorum has picked up considerable support among tea party members as well.  Keep in mind, that the core aim of the tea party, at least in this area, is a return to the Constitution, restraining the federal government to its authorized functions, and opposition to the spiraling debt and massive spending.  As the previous video indicated, Rick Santorum isn’t particularly favorable to this mindset.

So how does Rick Santorum view the tea party?  Since his speech in 2008, has he changed his views and embraced the ideals of limited government conservatism?  Well, in June 2011, he answered that question.

Now that he is officially running for president, Santorum has changed his tune, reaching out to unaware tea party voters even through his policy positions remain relatively unchanged since his time in the U.S. Senate.  Given Rick Santorum’s troubling, although fairly consistent, stance opposing the conservative ideal of a small, fiscally responsible central government, opposing the branch of the Republican Party who advocates these ideals, and opposing the tea party movement, one does have to wonder why any self-described conservative or tea party member would support his candidacy for President.  The only reasonable answer is that they do so solely based upon the idea that he has strong moral and religious principles.  Although then the question becomes, should we support someone for a political office based on his or her religious beliefs alone?

Do we believe a person who labels him or herself a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or any multitude of faiths or someone with no faith at all is or ought to be the defining characteristic which makes a person suitable for elected office?  And, if so, like the nation of Iran, should our country be ruled by a theocracy?  Assuming that either the GOP or the government follows down this theocratic path, will we still enjoy the long standing freedom to criticize our leaders or their policies when their principles run counter to our own?  When fascism comes to this country will it, like we have been warned, be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross?

Of course, anyone is free to support any candidate for any reason, however, it is useful to know where that candidate stands.  Rick Santorum, by his own admission, is not friendly to either limited-government conservatism or the tea party movement.  Therefore, it is particularly puzzling why some of these very same people should accept him as one of their own.  Following this line of thought, one must ask if he or she wants a Republican Party, a tea party, or a nation primarily ruled by Rick Santorum or someone who embraces his ideology?  It ought to be a fairly easy question to answer.

Tea Party Principles

What are the principles of the tea party?  I suppose that question it not particularly easy to answer.  After all, each tea party has its own flavor, each focusing on a multitude of issues they believe is important. Many of the left decry the movement as a bunch of small-minded bigots, while some of the establishment types on the right are quick to marginalize or downplay the importance of these groups as well.

Sure, their principles are varied, but so too are their goals.  Therefore, it is difficult to measure the success or failure of the tea party as each strives to accomplish different tasks including: removing poor leaders, electing “tea party” candidates, advancing legislation, spreading education and awareness, and/or simply providing a forum for political discussion.

But, going back to my original query, a number of weeks ago I was asked that very question about my local tea party.  Although I was tempted to respond off the top of my head with the laundry list of possible answers, I instead pondered the idea and compiled a file of what I thought were the most important tenants.  Here’s the list that I crafted:

The Tea Party supports the ideals of a limited and constitutional government.  Therefore, we believe:

The primary purpose of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens and those lawfully within their borders.

The federal government has grown well beyond its constitutional limitations as proscribed by the Constitution and reinforced by the 10th Amendment.

The rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms in a responsible manner for recreation, hunting, and protection should be protected.

The current tax code is too lengthy, burdensome, and convoluted and thus ought to be revised or replaced.

The Federal Reserve ought to have no hand or say in the printing or distribution of the money supply and should be abolished.

Education is not a federal issue and ought to be left to the states and localities with primary rights and responsibilities residing with the family.

The federal government has no authority to authorize any national health care plans, meddle with existing plans, nor mandate any person to purchase any insurance or program.

The federal government is crushing current and future generations under the weight of a national debt.  Not only should the government balance its budget, it should greatly curtail spending immediately only to engage in functions proscribed in the Constitution.

We oppose any and all laws and mandates forced upon the citizens by supranational organizations such as the United Nations.

We support greater transparency and openness in all levels and branches of government.

Of course, there are a whole host of other important issues, such as ending abortion or bringing our troops home, but I don’t really see the tea party as dealing with social issues nor do I think there is a majority opinion regarding military policy (unfortunately).  However, I do believe that the above list incorporates most, if not all, of the local tea party principles.

Are you a tea party member yourself?  Or do you view the group with either curiosity or disdain?  Most importantly, what principles would you either add or remove from my list?

Missing the Allen Bandwagon

Everyday, it seems that I receive another email announcing some other group or elected official who endorses George Allen’s Senate bid.  More and more people are climbing aboard the Allen bandwagon, but I cannot get on board.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was a very strong supporter of George Allen back in 2006.  During that election cycle, there was nothing that I wanted more than to work for his re-election effort.  Although I didn’t get a job with him directly, through my employment with the Republican Party of Virginia, I did get to spend a lot of time assisting his campaign.  Like most Republicans and conservatives, I was both shocked and disappointed when he lost to Jim Webb by a narrow margin.

When I heard that George Allen was running again in late 2010/early 2011, my first reaction mirrored the same excitement that I displayed back in 2006.  Here is a conservative with almost universal name recognition who can reclaim one of Virginia’s two Senate seats currently held in Democratic hands.  But then, at the urging of a handful of anti-Allen folks (some of whom have since either joined the Allen campaign or who have endorsed him), I delved into Allen’s record when he served as our Senator from 2000-2006.  What I found would make just about every constitutional conservative cringe.

Like many conservatives, as the Bush presidency dragged on, I became increasingly disheartened with George W. Bush for not only failing to rein in the power of the federal government but massively expanding instead, as well as failing to enact conservative legislation.  But it wasn’t just the President who betrayed the conservative movement.  After all, for a huge chunk of the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses, Republicans controlled both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.  For some unexplainable reason, I focused my frustrations on our President, while maintaining a rather rosy view of our legislators.  Nevertheless, as our Congressional representation endorsed and advocated these plans, they should be held just as culpable.

Let me outline what I feel are a few of George Allen’s most troubling votes while serving as our Senator.

He supported passage of the U.S. Patriot Act in October 2001.  George Allen, along with many other legislators voted to strip away some of our civil liberties in exchange for supposed security.  This act vastly increased the power of the federal government by allowing previously illegal roving wiretaps done without a court order and spying on what books folks check out in libraries.  You might be able to merely excuse his vote due to the widespread panic immediately following 9/11, but the fact that he voted to continue the program in October of 2006 meant that he had no qualms placing this country on the path to a police state.

He supported passage of Aviation and Transportation of Security Act in October 2001.  Are you happy with the TSA handling airport security?  Does the idea of aggressively patting down your grandma and your children please you?  How about revealing body scans?  Again, we can thank George Allen for this situation.

He supported No Child Left Behind in December 2001.  The federal government has no Constitutional authority to be involved in the education process.  Why should bureaucrats and legislators in D.C. have any control of an issue that is, depending on where you stand, the role of the states, localities, and most important, the parents themselves?

He supported the Iraq Conflict Resolution in October 2002.  Senator Allen voted to authorize use of force against the nation of Iraq while forces were already committed in another nation.  This invasion set a dangerous precedent for pre-emptive war.  As we all know now, we attacked a nation who posed no threat to the security of the United States.  This action led to the death of over 4,000 U.S. soldiers, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and a cost to the American taxpayer of $1.9 trillion dollars.

He supported Medicare Part D in November 2003.  Senator Allen advocated the expansion of federal government meddling in the health care industry by voting for passage of the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act.  From where in the Constitution does the federal government derive such authority?

He supported raising the debt ceiling.  Over the span of his six years in office, George Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling not once, not twice, but four times.  How is repeatedly driving this country further into debt the mark of a fiscal conservative?

Lastly, one of the defining marks of a limited government conservative is to actually eliminate unneeded, wasteful, or unconstitutional government.  How many federal programs did George Allen eliminate or try to eliminate while serving as our Senator?  Can you name just one of any substance?  I sorely wish that I could.

It is true that there are some good conservatives that voted the wrong way on one of these issues.  One area of disagreement typically shouldn’t scuttle a politician.  However, the fact that George Allen is on the wrong side of each of them is particularly troubling.  Although some of my Republican friends may think openly questioning George Allen’s record tantamount to treason, shouldn’t we resolve these matters now, before both the primary and the general election?

Last week, I heard that conservatives should support Allen because he has learned from his mistakes and now shares our values.  I haven’t seen sufficient evidence to back up this claim and thus I don’t really believe George Allen 2011 is much different from George Allen 2006.  Need proof?

If you will recall, from my article on May 27th of this year, I wrote each Republican candidate for Senate asking, “therefore, as a Republican candidate seeking to represent us in the United States Senate, the burning question on my mind is, if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?”  Although George Allen stated that he planned to streamline a number of agencies and programs, unlike the other candidates he did not mention completely eliminating anything with the exception of Obamacare which is important, but not nearly enough.  Read my article and decide for yourself.

Now some people will point to Tuesday’s news of supposedly 100 tea party individuals who have endorsed George Allen’s campaign.  Although I’m certain a handful of partiers will do so, it is becoming apparent that this claim is a hoax.  From what I’ve read, quite a few of the people listed did not give their blessing and some of the people on the list aren’t even associated with the tea party.  The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, of which I am a member, released a statement dispelling the claims of the Allen camp.

Nevertheless, I’d very much like to join with my friends and elected representatives who have endorsed George Allen.  After all, Virginia needs a strong conservative voice who will stand up for the Constitution, our principles, and the people of the Commonwealth; we need a man or woman with strong convictions who will do what is right even if that means sometimes standing against the President and his or her own party.  Given his track record from 2000-2006, like so many people in the tea party movement, I’m just not convinced the George Allen is the suitable person for the job.

Sure, George Allen has more than established his credentials with the officeholders, but that fact alone doesn’t win either the GOP nomination or the general election.  The challenge for both George Allen and his campaign is to prove to the tea parties, conservatives, Republicans, and average Virginians that he is the most principled candidate.  Despite what some outlets are reporting, so far, they have not succeeded in doing so.

I prized my A Team pin when it received back in 2006, but I guess it will continue to gather dust.  How unfortunate.

Panic! At the Supermarket

Image from www.brisbaneflood.com

On Saturday, I received a rather intriguing email from TheTeaParty.net entitled “37 things you should horde…” Inside, it offers several links to a page promising “click here to discover the 37 critical items you need to stay alive and healthy (you won’t be able to buy these things later!)”.  Given recent concerns with the value of the dollar, a weak economy, and the ever-present looming threat of some sort of natural disaster and/or a terrorist attack, people’s fears and concerns will likely draw them to this site.

But what do you find when you get there, you might wonder?  What are these 37 things that you and everyone else in our society need?  The short answer is, after watching the video they offer, I still have no idea.

Let me save you a bit of time.  For about a half an hour you sit through a repetitious video preying upon your fears that promises to save you from the crisis ahead.  After spending so much effort trying to convince you that you are a “good patriot”, that the speaker is your friend and only wants to help, and this information they provide will save you and your family from starvation and mob warfare, you are bombarded with a sales pitch to buy a book that contains the answer to these future panics and more.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but if you really care to watch it anyway, you can do so here.

A month or two ago, after receiving one of my first emails from TheTeaParty.net, I called their Washington D.C. office hoping to learn more about their organization.  No one answered my call and, even though I left a message, no one has anyone called me back since.  Surprised?

Looking through their dozen or so emails I have stuffed in my inbox, this so-called tea party seems to only send out two kinds of messages, emails asking for money and emails from their paid sponsors.  This morning’s email was more of the same.  “Do you support the movement?” they ask.  If yes, click here to take a poll.  But, once you do, there is no survey, only another donation page.  I’m sure that these kinds of self-serving messages are terribly useful to the greater tea party goals.

Masquerading as the tea party is all the rage these days.  After all, like the televangelists of old, preaching a message of doom and gloom coupled with a monetary path to salvation is a popular and proven tactic.  How many of our parents and grandparents were deceived by Jim Bakker or someone of his ilk back in the ’80s?  Take from the old!  Take from the naïve!  Their loss can be your gain!  But let me ask you this question: if you generously choose to donate some your hard-earned cash to show your support for the tea party, which would be a better choice?  Your friends and neighbors out working in the community?  Or some unknown group based in D.C.?

Now maybe TheTeaParty.net is on the level but, after a month, it is starting to become apparent to me that they may be little more than a group trying to cash in on the tea party’s name through promotion of their paid sponsors. Sure, you can ask me for a donation once in a while.  Shake me down for money four days in a row?  That tactic seems more than a little fishy.

Getting back to my original point, should you be prepared in the case of a disaster?  Absolutely.  Should we be concerned about the state of the economy?  Of course.  However, as a member of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I don’t want anyone to get suckered in by an astroturf substitute promising solutions to a problem that may or not exist.

But who should listen to reason with so much fear swirling in the air?  After all, tomorrow’s headline might read, “Panic!  At the Supermarket!”  Maybe if I ever look to cash in on a book or newspaper I’ll end up writing such provocative statements.  For now though we have at least two options.  Which course of action will you choose?

Image from http://www.whorange.net/whorange/2008/07/keep-calm-and-p.html