Well, at least one observer thinks the TEA Party will be awful mad about a recent statement by the group’s president.
Writing at the Green Hell Blog (h/t Blue Ridge Forum), Steve Milloy posits that a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rep. Fred Upton, incoming head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Americans for Prosperity head Tim Phillips charts a course toward capitulation to the Democrats and Obama Administration through a “sensible bipartisan compromise” on delaying the EPA regulations until the courts can determine their fate.
Obviously each individual chapter of AFP need not follow the dictates of the group’s president, but at a time where the group has been criticized locally (by a onetime AFP head) and around the state for being too co-opted by “establishment” Republicans who wanted to take advantage of the TEA Party and its energy, this is probably not the way for the organization to go.
Conservatives and TEA Partiers were already upset that it was Upton’s turn to be head of that committee, preferring instead that Rep. Joe Barton reassume the job he lost when Republicans were ousted from the majority in 2006. He would have needed a waiver of a six-year term limit on the chairmanship, but argued that his term effectively was wasted for four of those years by being simply the ranking member.
The problem with “sensible bipartisan compromise” is that one man’s ‘sensible’ is another man’s ‘surrender’ and it seems to me we have the mandate on our side. (Never mind that one side also has the tendency to lie through its teeth when it comes to cutting spending or the size of government. Their idea of government cuts? How about the ‘peace dividend’ and other ways of gutting the military?)
Furthermore, we’ve just come out of a ‘lame duck’ Congressional session where bipartisan compromise in the Senate gave us gays serving openly in the military, a bad nuclear treaty, another round of unemployment benefit extensions, and restoration of the death tax in exchange for a puny two-year extension of current income tax rates. Perhaps some of these shortcomings can be addressed in the upcoming 112th Congress (which will, among other things, replace our local ‘Blue Dog’ Democrat Frank Kratovil with conservative Andy Harris) but if this piece by Upton reflects the tenor of House leadership toward Democrats the TEA Party will be sorely disappointed.
At risk is a group which already has a serious strike against it by being, as they state on their website, “a section 501(c)(4) organization under the Internal Revenue Code… AFP can advocate for and against specific legislation at the state and federal levels.” But they can’t advocate for or against particular candidates, which becomes a problem in the cases where a conservative squares off against an “establishment” party member in the primary. While other TEA Party organizations scored successes in that area (like electing Marco Rubio in Florida) AFP had to remain silent and watch as other TEA Party conservatives like Joe Miller in Alaska or Sharron Angle in Nevada lost close races, in part because of the reluctance of ‘establishment’ Republicans to back the upstarts.
On a more local scale, imagine if AFP could have openly backed Michael James for a Maryland Senate seat or Joe Ollinger for County Executive. It could have made the difference, particularly in the Senate race where Democrat Jim Mathias all but portrayed himself as Ronald Reagan reincarnated.
Locally, the AFP chapter has waned since one co-founder left after her ill-fated run for office and the other, ironically enough, vacated to take an elected position in the local Republican Party. The former has shifted her involvement into the Wicomico Society of Patriots, an offshoot of the state group.
And she’ll be the one who might be saying “I told you so.”
Obviously, unless they decide to seek office and win, the amount of fealty an officeholder has to someone’s set of principles will almost never be 100 percent. (Witness the results of the ongoing monoblogue Accountability Project, which will return next summer.) But in the political arena, where making law is akin to making sausage, compromising the broad set of principles most in the TEA Party stand for should be a last resort and not an opening parlay. That’s a gambit which will never pay off in dividends for freedom-loving Americans like those in the TEA Party and may lead to a damaging third-party effort come 2012.