There should be no trepidation among those sympathetic to the Tea Party in recognizing its origin in the Ron Paul 2008 campaign. Understanding how the initial movement was attacked and marginalized are valuable lessons that will be needed as it attempts to challenge the political establishment. But it is in these roots that one can see the Tea Party entering into a critical chapter of its existence. Weighted with the responsibility of combating the fiscal crisis of our time, it is about to reach a crossroads — reform its cousin the Republican Party or create a new coalition. But if the GOP’s Pledge to America is any indication, the path forward may have already been reduced to one of these options.
No political movement can claim the banner of fiscal responsibility without a unilateral approach to reducing government spending. A party’s ability to embed spending favoritism within our system is not a practice for which Democrats hold the patent. As time progresses, attention will turn to the GOP’s version of Big Government spending, and its “exception” for seniors and military budgets will enter the spotlight. Argue as it may that these exceptions are off limits to budget cuts, as its leadership laid out in the Pledge, a movement that holds fiscal responsibility at its core will quickly lose credibility if it does not legitimately tackle the fiscal crisis from all angles. Americans have been hearing about our Road to Serfdom at least as far back as the publication of F. A. Hayek’s famed book of the same name, and have historically been immune to the warning. But this time something is different — and everyone feels it.
If these exceptions go unchanged, the Tea Party movement will inevitably lead to a new party because, as with the Whig and Democratic parties of 1856, our two major parties cannot formulate a concrete solution to the growth of powerful interest groups. Each party has increased the government’s size and scope to unsustainable levels under the guise that their party’s spending is more rational than their opponent’s. As history has shown, neither of the major parties will curb their ability to distribute favors. In essence, they’ve created the most efficient favor factory ever devised. Tackling this instability is where the Tea Party’s dilemma, and possible glory, resides.
The Tea Party must tread carefully on the issues of our military spending and social safety nets to avoid the pitfalls of our two major parties. Some common ground within the movement has tentatively been mapped out, as was seen in a discussion regarding foreign policy between Sarah Palin and Ron Paul on the debut of Freedom Watch — both agreeing that empire building was fiscally unsustainable. This is potentially where common ground can be found and a new coalition forged. The movement must seriously address the spend-a-holic nature of both major parties. And as the Ron Paul Tea Party experienced, it must be prepared for attack by the establishment for tackling these issues.
Make no mistake about it — a political reorganization is occurring that will inevitably lead to a new party. It may take many cycles to play out but the process is in motion. The Republican Party, the movement that brought stability to our country in the darkest days of the Civil War, did not happen overnight. The abolition movement first delved into politics in 1839 with the Liberty Party, which later joined forces with the Free Soil Party in 1848, then grew its coalition under the umbrella of the Republican Party in 1854, which didn’t take the reins of the White House until 1860 — some 21 years from its birth. The Tea Party may be the vessel, or it may be the conduit to a new coalition. But if it does not take a unilateral, unbiased approach to government spending, and reinvent our approach to government-sponsored intervention, the movement will fracture and another will rise through the laws of self-organization — a process that prefers groups that legitimately attack instability.
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Patrick Courrielche gained prominence from a series of articles that highlighted a White House effort to use a federal arts agency to push controversial legislation. He has been published by wsj.com, reason.com, Breitbart’s BIG sites, and appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, NPR, BBC, and various nationally syndicated radio shows. He is a communications specialist, former aerospace engineer, writer, and can be followed at Courrielche.com and twitter.com/courrielche.