Tea Parties: A view from the Ivory Tower, and a grassroots view

Senior Obama advisor (called by some on the right “Obama’s brain”) David Axelrod described the Tea Party movement as “unhealthy” because of its alleged potential into developing into something extreme:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senior White House adviser David Axelrod on Sunday suggested the “Tea Party” movement is an “unhealthy” reaction to the tough economic climate facing the country.

Axelrod was asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” about the “spreading and very public disaffection” with the president’s fiscal policies seen at the “Tea Party” rallies around the country last week.

“I think any time you have severe economic conditions there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy,” Axelrod said.

Axelrod appeared to backtrack when pressed on whether the movement is unhealthy.

“Well, this is a country where we value our liberties and our ability to express ourselves, and so far these are expressions,” he said.

Uh huh. Nice attempt at spinning his way out of it, but he made it pretty obvious he was taking a page out of the Napolitano/DHS handbook when it comes to smearing right wingers (and others who agree with them) whow have legitimate political differences with this administration. In fact, it’s actually the whole “they’re all extremists like Rush Limbaugh” all over again, which is a play out of Carville’s and Axelrod’s books.

Contrast that with a story posted at the LAT’s Top of the Ticket blog from the perspective of Ticket reader, Dann Selle from Spokane, WA, who provided a recap of the Spokane Tea Party that took place on the 15th. The two differing views are a study in contrast between a WH that is out of touch with the anger felt by many Americans over what they’ve done in the last near-100 days, and a left coast conservative recapping the concerns and anger expressed by him and his fellow Tea Party attendees over the adminstration’s agenda.

Interestingly enough, in that same CNN piece, it was noted that Dem strategist James Carville didn’t find the Tea Party movement “unhealthy” in the way that Axelrod suggested, but indicated he felt it was “damaging” to Republicans, which brings to mind a related issue I’ve been wanting to bring up.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard over the last several weeks from supposedly “concerned” liberals about how the Republican party is going to “fade into obsurity” if it doesn’t “fall more in line” with the views of the American people. Now, I don’t think the core philosophy of conservative Republicans is out of step with the American people, but instead believe that conservatives in DC lost their way over the course of the Bush years with the massive, mostly unchecked spending, and with the various corruption scandals. That said, let’s assume for a minute for the sake of argument that the principles of smaller government and lower taxes were “out of touch” with what mainstream Americans wanted. Is that any reason to “modify” our stance on bigger government and higher taxes? Let’s say for the sake of argument that the principles of desiring a strong national defense were “out of step” with mainstream America. Should we therefore “change” what we believe on that in order to gain popularity with the American people?

The answer, in my view, is no. If conservatives abandoned their principles on those issues, our party as we know it would cease to exist. In fact, we saw what happened when conservatives in Congress started acting like moderate liberals on spending, for example – it didn’t do us any good. Certainly there are issues that we can find common ground on with the left on, like on card check, supporting our returning veterans, and on regulation/deregulation. At this point, we don’t have a choice, but in the end there are core principles that should never be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Even if it means in the end the party would die out.

The jobs conservatives have to do in order to ensure that doesn’t happen is to explain their conservative positions to their respective constituencies (or in the case of those running for office, explain their positions to their potential respective constituencies) clearly and articulately – and make their case for how a Congress and WH controlled by fiscally conservative Republicans is better overall for our country’s future than one controlled by fiscally irresponsible liberals. And at the same time, they shouldn’t be afraid to tackle the tougher social issues like illegal immigration, gay marriage, and the right to life. These issues can be framed in ways that have the potential to win over potential young conservatives and independents of all ages alike. We shouldn’t cede ground on the “green” issue, either. We don’t have to fall for the phony “man-made” global warming arguments to be able to make persuasive arguments for less dependency on foreign oil via more offshore drilling and exploring alternative forms of energy. It is, after all a national security issue more than anything else, and even after all the last two elections where conservatives have lost considerable ground, national security is still one of the few issues more people trust us on than they do the left.

What do you think?

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