Scinto to Tea Partiers: “Slow Your Roll”
By Mike Scinto
If you’re a Republican, or call yourself a political conservative, you probably had much the same reaction to this past year’s tea parties to “take back America” for the people. It was great to again see a conservative, small government-lower taxes attitude taking shape; especially after our direction since this President took office. But fears I expressed this past fall seem to be taking shape right before my eyes.
Whether you view it as good or bad, we are a two party governmental system. We haven’t always been, but for as long as those of you reading this have been alive that’s been the case. And it is likely to be the case for the rest of our years. As a Republican I’ve certainly not always liked the offerings handed me by primary elections, caucuses or political appointment. But that’s how it is.
I began voting in 1970. I’ve voted in every election, and special election, since then. I can tell you I have never voted “party line” just for the sake of saying I punched the “R” on the ballot. But I can tell you in all but one election, I have stayed true to the party; always based on policy and attitude not on what followed their name on the ballot.
The one time I strayed (and I’m not proud of it in hindsight) was when I voted for a former Republican who ran as an Independent; my vote was cast for John Anderson over Republican Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election.
I mentioned Anderson. There have been a handful of third party candidates who have stirred the pot even a little bit in recent decades; George Wallace and Ross Perot are the other two prominent “outsiders”. It is the Perot candidacy that I think most mirrors the possible problems for conservatives in 2010 and 2012.
While it is debatable whether Perot was more a Democrat or a Republican, it is very obvious to me the votes that went to Perot likely contributed to the defeat of George H. W. Bush and catapulted Bill Clinton into office.
There are already several “Tea Party” candidates running against Republicans in the primaries for national offices in state elections. The “Tea Party” can only do damage as a political party at this juncture. Even if they are elected to office, what will that do to the most prominent challenge; bringing a true conservative message back to mainstream Republicans running for Congress and to ouster this socialist President in 2012?
At a time when Obama and his Democrat legion on The Hill are heading downhill in the polls faster than Lindsey Vonn in her gold medal Olympic Downhill win, we (Republicans) can’t lose focus on the target.
While their message is one we should all hear loud and clear, the method of expressing it is another thing. These activists for returning to a government our founders could believe in would serve best working from within Republican ranks; serving on steering committees and leadership boards within the GOP. Anything beyond that and the movement risks becoming part of the problem, not the solution.