The Chamber, the TEA Party and the Big Tent

One of the more interesting questions to come up as Karen Handel endorsed Jack Kingston during Wednesday’s press conference was from the AJC’s Political Insider, Jim Galloway.

“You’re kind of in the middle of pulling off a pretty good hat trick here,” Galloway told Kingston.  “You’ve got the U.S. Chamber of Commerce laying out half a million dollars for you within the next few weeks.  And then, you’re also teeing up TEA Party support, and they’re not the best of friends. So how do you walk that line?”

Kingston responded by noting that Harry Reid, Michelle Nunn and President Obama surely would like to see a divided conservative family. He pledged to bring together people who want to reform government, cut spending, add more jobs and strengthen national security, claiming his plan would unite the various wings of the Republican Party.

Is Kingston’s plan perfect? Probably not. And it certainly doesn’t cover every issue conservatives would like to see resolved in our favor. What it does do, though, is lay out some common ground that people can agree on.

This month, we heard a lot about how establishment Republicans want to destroy the TEA Party, and how the TEA Party vows to continue the fight against the establishment. Here in Georgia, TEA party efforts to unseat the Governor and Speaker of the House failed. Articles have been written about the possible future of the TEA Party movement.

Maybe the lesson that should be learned is that a political approach of “my way or the highway” is one that that frequently doesn’t result in a win. That applies not only to TEA Partiers challenging Chamber of Commerce Republicans, but to ‘liberty’ Republicans challenging the establishment, and vice-versa. Finding candidates who appeal to a broader swath of conservatives and Republicans can be a winner, not only here in Georgia, but apparently also in Alaska, Arkansas and Iowa.

Being a big tent party doesn’t have to mean compromising conservative values. It does mean understanding that someone you agree with 80% of the time is someone who is going to help you win elections.


  1. Left Turn Only says:

    Big tent party? The GOP? Folks, pairing the Big Money Boys with the Angry Old White Men does not a big tent make! In the GOP microcosm, maybe, but not in real life.

  2. DrGonzo says:

    Words. The GOP is always promising us one thing, then when they get into office they govern completely differently – usually in a manner that increases the size and scope of government. You folks are always saying we have to “work within the party” but all that means is “shut up and vote for Republicans, you don’t want the Democrats to win do you?” That doesn’t help anything when we support Republicans who then proceed to govern by the status quo. If you think Jack Kingston is going to shake up the Senate in the way it needs to be, then I have a bridge to sell you. He’ll say whatever it takes to make him the nominee in November; if that means saying nice supportive things about the Tea Party agenda, that’s what he’ll do. But mark my words, when he gets elected, he’ll toe the Chamber line, and TP folks won’t even be able to get him on the phone.

    Work within the party? We see how well that worked with Ron Paul’s supporters. Say what you will about them, but the reason they were so ticked off was because they were told to work within the party, and then when they realized they were basically being sidelined they started trying parliamentary moves and a bunch of other things that got them labeled troublemakers and jerks. But you can’t blame folks for being frustrated with the party when they keep campaigning on one set of ideals and then governing on a set of ideals that are completely different (and closer to the Democrats’ ideals).

    I’m sorry, but third parties are where these folks need to be. They will always be subject to marginalization by attempting to work through the GOP. The establishment says they agree with TP agendas (or they agree 80% of the time)? Maybe, but they don’t govern like they agree with those ideals, and TP folks simply are tired of voting for people that basically amount to liars.

    • Ken says:

      And yet some Liberty Caucus people are working well and successfully within the GAGOP and no one’s head has exploded.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Liberty Caucus? They barely exist in the party anymore. With the likes of David Shafer heading them up, I think they’ve been effectively marginalized more like it.

  3. Harry says:

    Some of you don’t seem to comprehend that those of us who identify with the Tea Party movement are interested in protecting your and our interests. The huge corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations have plenty of lobbyists and spend money and influence to get their way. Somebody has to represent the small taxpayers and middle class who are being reamed over by the inequitable, anti-competitive tax and regulatory policies. When you so called Republicans fail to support and instead attack the Tea Party movement you’re just failing to support your own best interests, unless you really do benefit yourselves from the prevailing unjust system which is the only basis for your disapproval that would make sense.

    • xdog says:

      Then they should work to make it happen. Hint: when the tp goes out of its way to offend and obstruct, and when it embraces the loony, the ignorant and the incompetent, it does nothing but piss people off.

      • DrGonzo says:

        “…when it embraces the loony, the ignorant and the incompetent…” You’re nitpicking here and generalizing from minor cases of loons showing up for TP activities. “Ignorant and incompetent”? You just described half of all elected officials, GOP and otherwise; never stopped them from getting elected.

        Face it: the people that are ticked off are the ones that have power (whatever small or large amount that might be) or influence in the party. TP advocates for pushing most of these people aside – starting at the top – so we can reduce the special interest grip. So of course that’s going to engender some acrimony.

        But the main point stands: if the GOP had been doing such a great job limiting and shrinking the size and scope of government, then the Tea Party wouldn’t be around. The GOP is inneffective, beholden to interests other than those of its citizen constituents, and continues to lie about its commitment to small government principles.

        • xdog says:

          I’m not nitpicking. What you call ‘minor’ is sop for the gop right, from claiming Common Core will make kids gay to questioning Obama’s birth records, voting ad infinitum to stop ACA, denying scientific findings because they don’t fit their agenda, decrying government while cashing SSS checks. Loony and ignorant understates it.

          The tp came about because of the great economic collapse. There’s always been a populist uprising during hard times, driven by fear and ignorance and focused on outrage. This current movement is no different.

          I’m not defending the rest of the gop either. They’ve been lying about their commitments for a long time. The tpers are just the last people to get the word.

          • DrGonzo says:

            “What you call ‘minor’ is sop for the gop right, from claiming Common Core will make kids gay to questioning Obama’s birth records, voting ad infinitum to stop ACA, denying scientific findings because they don’t fit their agenda, decrying government while cashing SSS checks.” Now you’re just hyperbolic. Also, you sound like a Democrat. In which case I won’t bother arguing with you, as you’re not the people I’m trying to reach.

            • xdog says:

              So disagreeing with you is hyperbolic. You should make up your mind if you approve or disapprove of gop actions before you post. You’re probably saving us both time by bowing out.

              • DrGonzo says:

                No, you’re being hyperbolic in how you’re describing actions/opinions of a minority of people as “SOP” for all Republicans.

  4. PegM says:

    During the recent primary campaign, the most off touted phrase was “I am the most conservative”. It caused me to muse, “what is a conservative”? Is there some litmus test that must be passed to use that label? Do you lose your conservative creds if you have a nuanced view of some social issues, but hold true to the “less government, lower taxes, strong defense, and personal responsibility” tenets? How big of a tent is the GOP? Just want to know.

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