The mainstream news media are fond of portraying the Tea Party as a fringe group that the Republican Party should rein in if they’re to have any chance of winning the next presidential election.
And yet, the Tea Party is a movement of committed conservatives who hold the key to a Republican victory and without whose help the Republicans can’t win. John McCain’s disastrous run in 2008 proved that watering down the conservative message helped neither him nor the party itself. The country does not need two Democrat parties. And it was very telling that the Democrats ended up liking McCain much more than his own party did. One was reminded of the Spanish dictator Franco thanking Franklin Roosevelt for being such a gentleman. Roosevelt later regretted being such a gentleman, and McCain probably did too.
What the Tea Party brings to the Republicans is, first and foremost, a reminder of what the party stands for. It is the quintessential conservative message of less government interference in business and private lives, as well as lower taxes, job creation, and a strong national defense. For years, this was the Republican message as well, but today, many voters are not so sure.
The Republicans must seize this opportunity. By any measure of conventional wisdom, they should win next year’s election going away. A dismal economy, business closures, wars dragged out overseas, threats to our border, among many other issues, would normally spell disaster for an incumbent. But Barack Obama seems to have an extremely loyal base, if the polls are to be believed, and nothing can be taken for granted. And the Republicans have yet to field a surefire candidate.
Here in Texas, the question lately has been whether Governor Rick Perry will throw his hat into the ring. A more recent rumor is that he may be angling for the vice-presidential spot. In any event, it’s a safe bet Texas will go Republican.
But the Republicans need more than that. They need to motivate voters across the country, and in order to do that, they need the Tea Party. It is no exaggeration to say that the Tea Party, through their action or inaction, will decide the next presidential election.