As the Florida primary election results pour in, I have to wonder how much positive, pro-conservative messaging could have been generated with the $18M that Mitt Romney just spent on character assassination. In the midst of national debts and credit downgrades, there is worldwide civil unrest. From the riots in Greece, through the flash mobs in the UK, and all the way to the Oakland City Hall Occupiers, there are people who realize that one trillion dollars doesn’t go very far these days. Purity is the goal, but reality is the harsh equalizer. While the Tea Party is engaging in the political process and working on policy, the Occupiers are sending a parallel message to elites in both political establishments. The ruling class is on its way out.
When I joined the Tea Party in 2009, I was a purist. Demanding fiscal responsibility and accountability was just on the surface. I also wanted elected officials to represent the people with strong positions on national security and limited government. Like many, reality settled in after the 2010 elections. A mass wave of big conservative talkers and campaigns that insisted on Tea Party principles fooled many. Unfortunately, many of these candidates did not have an actual record to validate their claims, and their maiden voyages in politics were not particularly impressive. Many grassroots activists who helped these candidates get elected in the 2010 elections are now recruiting their replacements.
During the 2011 legislative session of the Texas Legislature, my idealism was infused with a dose of realism. As a member of the Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Board, I learned more than a little about how the system works. Money is power, and it rules the political elites. The leadership is handpicked, and laws are written accordingly. The “Good ol’ Boy Network” isn’t just something you see in the big Hollywood films. Even the reformers walked on eggshells, wary of shaking up the status quo. Those who attempted to challenge the ruling class became victims of backlash and threats of formidable challengers in the primaries. This is why the rise of Newt Gingrich as the choice of many conservative grassroots is a sight for my very sore — but now more open — eyes.
The mainstream media, including the “fair and balanced” cable news networks, have been telling Republicans that Mitt Romney will be the next nominee for president. They have been trying to convince conservatives that the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama is the right guy for us in 2012. What conservative grassroots are saying to the media and to the party is that it’s not “Mitt’s turn” — it’s the people’s turn. If Speaker Gingrich wins or loses the nomination, the people will have had their say. The mere fact that Mitt Romney has been running for president for at least five years, and has still found it necessary to spend a fortune tearing down other candidates to prop himself up, is reflective of his inability to win honestly and exposes his lack of substance on the issues. And now that all of his negative ads have been proven to be false, what will he have moving forward? Jimmy Carter was a successful business man, and from what I’m told, he did a number on the economy.
Many people seem more than a little surprised to see so many Tea Partiers and other grassroots activists circle around Newt Gingrich’s political wagon, but they shouldn’t be. Support for Newt has come from Michael Reagan, Sarah and Todd Palin, Thomas Sowell, Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, Chuck Norris, Michael Williams, and many others who have had the guts to be on the front lines of this fight. Some are so rooted in themselves that these facts still don’t convince them that the grassroots conservative support for Newt is real and solid. One wonders where some of the more vitriolic folks have left to go as the race plays out. How could one openly support a candidate whom they themselves have declared unfit to serve? Some appear to have boxed themselves into a corner at the time the real battle has begun.
I respect a person whose difficult life experiences have molded their character for the better. I respect a person who can own their mistakes and be held accountable. I respect a person who is honest and respectful. There are many divorced Americans, and millions more are single parents. Judging someone by past transgressions in their personal life is in and of itself immoral. If you don’t agree you should rip the Book of Psalms out of your Bible. In the weeds of grassroots, the most common complaint is the difficulty with recruiting good candidates to run. It has been disappointing to see some of these same grassroots people adopting the exact same behavior that they lamented so loudly just three years ago.
Rick Santorum has openly stated that he would fight the influence of the Tea Party within the conservative movement and that freedoms should be more regulated. Contrast this idea with the philosophy of Reagan, who stated unequivocally that “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Santorum’s record is that of an unapologetic big-government spender. He is the consummate Washington insider and party man, a politician whose approach to public service could well be summed up in five words: “go along to get along.” If you doubt this, consider what, if anything, you’ve known of Rick Santorum prior to 2011. Prior to this election, the two times Rick Santorum really succeeded in making national headlines was by endorsing the liberal Arlen Specter against the conservative Pat Toomey in 2004, and by losing his seat in a landslide in 2006. And yet, some would tell you today that Rick Santorum is the one true hope for conservative principles. How can this possibly be? None of the candidates are a threat to family values, so if that is the argument take another look.
I have the honor of living in more than just one world. I exist among blacks and whites, rich and poor, divorced and married. I hear and understand the arguments of Tea Party and Occupy because corporatism is not capitalism. I am thankful to have been born during the cusp of Reagan. Being new to politics, I’m not old enough to know Reagan, and yet I’m not young enough to be compromised by our current society and worship Obama. Therefore, no one party or ideology has corrupted my views. I have survived my past, because I refuse to live in it.
So, let me offer the perspective of a happily-divorced single mom of biracial descent. We are in a war for our nation, and divided we fall. I support Speaker Gingrich because his hard-fought achievements for this country far outstrip his mistakes. We can look back with derision at the concern he felt about global warming years ago, but what did you think at the time? Does it not carry any weight that much of what we now know of global warming science was yet to be learned when he sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi? I support Speaker Gingrich because I believe he understands what it’s like being from a broken home and being imperfect in your own family. I support Speaker Gingrich because America wouldn’t exist if not for “grandiose” ideas and vision. I support Speaker Gingrich because he has actually balanced a federal budget and reformed welfare, which no one else in the race has done. I support Speaker Gingrich because the people fighting against him are some of the key members of the ruling class that brought us these problems in the first place. We may fault the speaker for thinking out loud, but timid souls who measure every word and never speak out of turn have rarely made history. I support Speaker Gingrich because America needs a conservative president again.