The head of a major tea party group says his organization doesn’t plan to endorse presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“FreedomWorks has not made it a practice to endorse for presidential elections, and I don’t expect we’ll deviate from tradition this year,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe told The Daily Caller. “Our focus elsewhere is always on electing more-conservative candidates.”
This prohibition on endorsing presidential candidates didn’t prevent FreedomWorks from attacking Romney during the GOP primary. In fact, one of the tea party organization’s top goals was to prevent Romney from becoming the nominee. In March, as it became increasingly clear Romney would win the nomination, FreedomWorks officially dropped its strident opposition to him.
But Kibbe, the author of the recently released book “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America,” said the success of conservative primary opponents on the Senate and House level should send a clear message to elected Republicans.
“[Republican Utah] Sen. [Orrin] Hatch, [Republican Indiana] Sen. [Richard] Lugar in Indiana, [former Republican Utah] Sen. [Bob] Bennett in 2010, and many others serve as a reminder to the GOP that the tea party isn’t interested in playing party politics,” Kibbe said.
Asked if FreedomWorks intended to support Hatch if he survives his primary challenge in Utah to the FreedomWorks-backed Dan Liljenquist, Kibbe said that Hatch can only win by tacking rightward.
“If Sen. Hatch is able to pull out a victory over his strong conservative challenger Dan Liljenquist, it will be because Hatch was forced to return to the principles of fiscal responsibility and small government that have been the focal point of the race,” Kibbe said.
“If Hatch is sent back to the Senate, he’ll go back with a very real understanding of how serious Utahns are about their expectations for his performance and the true conservative principles he should represent.”
Check out TheDC’s full interview with Kibbe about his new book, the state of the tea party and much more:
Why did you decide to write the book?
Government is out of control and politicians in both parties are to blame. We’re $15 trillion in debt, unemployment remains high, and it seems like every day another freedom is eroded in the name of centralizing power in Washington. The American people have been reclaiming the power that is ours over the last few years, from the tea party protests in 2009 to the takeover of the GOP in 2010. Now we’re faced with an opportunity to restore the system of decentralized authority. “Hostile Takeover” makes the case for decentralizing authority (government is, after all, the last real bastion of centralization in modern society) and explains how we can accomplish it in economic, tax and fiscal policy, health care, education and more.
What’s so alarming about the current trajectory of the country?
While virtually every other aspect of society is trending toward decentralization, from social networking to information gathering to the way businesses are run, Washington is trending toward centralization, more control, more spending, more debt. They are utterly contemptuous of outsiders and are digging in their heels to maintain the top-down status quo. But the liberalization of political markets and information has fundamentally changed politics in spite of Washington, and freedom is trending. “Hostile Takeover” examines how that is happening and will continue to happen.
Who was the last president, or GOP presidential candidate for that matter, that understood your message?
Ronald Reagan had a keen understanding of the power of the individual and the importance of exporting power from Washington back to the people. But as I write in “Hostile Takeover,” conservatives have to stop looking for the next Reagan. A charismatic leader won’t fix Washington – we’ve been learning that the hard way since Inauguration Day 2009. The presidency is important, but the tea party is focused on returning power to the people through local elections, where true reform happens. We the People will fix Washington from the bottom up.
What’s your plan, as you write in “Hostile Takeover,” to “break up the privileged collusion of Washington insiders and return power from self-appointed ‘experts’ back to the people?”
First, it isn’t my plan. The beauty of what’s happening is that it’s being orchestrated by the grassroots. “We the People” decided we’d had enough, and started doing something about it. The break-up of Washington insiders has been going on since the 2010 midterms, and is continuing this year as we’ve already seen in primary season. The hard part is now going to be what to do with the power “We the People” have reclaimed. “Hostile Takeover” lays out several policy areas in dire need of decentralization, a wide range of economic policy, education and health care, which starts with repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a system focused on patient-centered care.
Is the tea party losing steam? Mitt Romney was hardly the tea party’s choice for the GOP nomination.
As I write in “Hostile Takeover,” the presidency is important, but not the focal point of this hostile takeover. The overwhelming power of, and deference to, the executive branch is one of the symptoms of the centralized structure this movement is aiming to tear down. The tea party has been focused on congressional, state and local elections, which reflects the bottom-up nature of the movement itself. We’re changing Washington from the bottom up and the outside in.
Will tea partiers and FreedomWorks campaign for Romney? Will you support Orrin Hatch if he wins the GOP primary in Utah?
FreedomWorks has not made it a practice to endorse for presidential elections, and I don’t expect we’ll deviate from tradition this year. Our focus elsewhere is always on electing more-conservative candidates. If Sen. Hatch is able to pull out a victory over his strong conservative challenger, Dan Liljenquist, it will be because Hatch was forced to return to the principles of fiscal responsibility and small government that have been the focal point of the race. If Hatch is sent back to the Senate, he’ll go back with a very real understanding of how serious Utahns are about their expectations for his performance and the true conservative principles he should represent.
What message does Hatch’s political troubles send to the Senate GOP caucus? Which GOP senators would you like to see replaced by more conservative challengers?
Sen. Hatch, Sen. Lugar in Indiana, Sen. Bennett in 2010, and many others serve as a reminder to the GOP that the tea party isn’t interested in playing party politics. “Hostile Takeover” explains how the takeover of Washington started with a takeover of the GOP. Our members are also engaged in Texas, where the run-off between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurts looks a lot like [Marco] Rubio v. [Charilie] Crist in Florida in 2010. Sen. [Olympia] Snowe of Maine quit instead of facing her constituents’ wrath.
Can the tea party refrain from taking a stance on foreign policy, especially with the Iranian issue heating up? Couldn’t there be a split between the Marco Rubio wing and the Rand Paul wing?
The tea party is unique from the entrenched parties in many ways, including its narrow focus on economic issues and the size of government covered in “Hostile Takeover.” FreedomWorks sums it up well as lower taxes, less government, more freedom. In our experience there’s a lot of varied opinion within grassroots on issues that lay outside the scope of economics and the size of government, but that’s okay. The other issues tend to take a back burner to — and are contingent upon — our country getting its financial house in order.
Isn’t there reason to be optimistic about America in the 21st century? When you compare America’s problems to the other countries supposedly contending to lead the 21st century, our problems seem minor and easily correctable, no?
The trends are disturbing. While virtually everything else in our society is trending toward decentralization, and even big competitors like China and Communist strongholds like Cuba are beginning to trend toward decentralization, our government continues to consolidate power in Washington, D.C. But we’re at a point in history where we have both the motivation and the means to reverse that trend, and that’s what “Hostile Takeover” is all about. I don’t think the challenges we face are minor or easily correctible, but I am optimistic that “We the People” can overcome them.
What three books would you recommend President Obama read, besides your own?
“Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis” by Ludwig von Mises
“The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics” edited by David Dodd
“What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers” by Richard N. Bolles