Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Tea Party Is the Future of the Republican Party

How can I say that after President Obama won reelection? Isn't the Tea Party dividing the Republican Party and making it harder to compete with the Democratic Party?

The Republican Party won't be able to compete if it does not accept and maximize the life-giving power offered by the Tea Party.

The Republican Party is at its best when it is pulsing with populist moral zeal. The Tea Party does not advocate on moral issues. Well, the debt is a moral issue, but the Tea Party does not get into social issues. Still, the Tea Party is the kind of populism the GOP needs to be vigorous.

Here is a column I wrote that was published in the 04/15/05 Omaha World-Herald:

Perhaps there is no zeal like that of a recent convert. 

As a relatively new addition to the Republican Party, I write in response to (1) Harold W. Andersen's announcement that he left the herd because the GOP has become "a captive of the religious right" and (2) the assertion by Mr. Andersen and The World-Herald's editorial page that the major parties are improperly trying to influence nonpartisan city elections. 

The "religious right" gripe is part of the age-old battle in both major parties between blue-blooded elitism and red-blooded populism. 

The elites have succeeded in demolishing the separation of powers and getting the courts to make public policy on abortion and other issues. They hate the idea of the legislative branch restoring majority rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. Too much populist influence on public policy. 

I want the GOP to embrace the populist moral zeal that typifies a healthy American political party. 

The Republican Party was created by populists fighting slavery. They persevered despite the judiciary's all-out effort to protect slavery. 

Somebody help me: Was Abraham Lincoln a captive of the religious right or left? Clearly he was a tool of moral extremists who refused to shut up and defer to the judicial branch. Those moral bullies had the audacity to use majority rule to jam the Dred Scott case down the high court's throat with a constitutional amendment banning slavery. 

Both major parties became gray, bloodless, indistinguishable zombies in the service of the robber barons in the late 19th century. 

Crusader Teddy Roosevelt pumped life back into the GOP at the turn of the century with the kind of populist moral zeal the Republican Party would not see again until Ronald Reagan became its leader. 

This vitality is not exclusive to the GOP. The modern Democratic Party has been strongest when it has embraced populist moral zeal. William Jennings Bryan provided the populist ideological basis for the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the 20th century. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt helped make the Democratic Party dominant from 1932 to 1980 by welcoming people of all backgrounds into the political process and giving them the impression that he really cared about them -- and I believe he did care. 

Harry S. Truman found himself as a leader when he took command in the global fight against the "false philosophy" of atheistic communism. 

John F. Kennedy's inaugural, if delivered today, would put whiners about "Jesus Land" in an uproar: "Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that, here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own." 

The hold that the Democratic Party maintains in local and national politics is due to its New Deal and Great Society legacy rooted in populist moral zeal. 

On the matter of parties flexing their muscles in contests for nonpartisan offices, I agree that there is not a Democratic or Republican way to remove snow or perform many other services of local government. 

But I just read a World-Herald story about a mayoral forum in which issues tinged with ideology -- affirmative action, police policy, the public safety auditor -- were discussed. Ideology can affect priorities in spending scarce tax dollars. There is a place for party philosophy in such matters. 

Aside from ideology, it's important for a party to be able to say it is robust enough to help win the Mayor's Office or a majority on the City Council. Also, there is value in keeping talent in the pipeline so when openings occur that bring party principles more directly into play, proven candidates are ready. 

We have a four-term representative in the 2nd Congressional District, but he didn't come from nowhere to win the seat initially. Lee Terry's service on the City Council put him in a strong position to run for Congress. 

One reason the District 3 City Council race is important to the Republican Party is that incumbent Jim Vokal is young talent in the Republican pipeline. 

The voting public is well-served by vigorous party action in electoral politics and by parties that champion bold principles rooted in populist moral zeal.

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