A Tea Party conservative friend recently asked me what he could do to help prevent the decline of the country. A heavy burden! A few observations and prescriptions:
As for the observations:
1. There is some parallel between the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement. We have not recovered financially or emotionally from the collapse of 2008, the slow motion defeat in the Middle East,the decline of the middle class, and the impending end of our brief reign as the world's lone superpower. People on the Left, Right, and Center are dispirited.
2. To the extent that the answers are political, it is essential that we support candidates who can get nominated, can be elected, and will govern well. Two of three is not enough - as many liberals would attest, given the Obama experience.
3. Be strategic and be practical. Politics is the art of the possible.
And the prescriptions:
1. Be informed. If you have limited time, read Red State (particularly for the evaluation of Republican candidates) and Real Clear Politics (for a broad mix of op-eds and polling data.) A broader list of sources is included at the end of this article. In accord with Sun Tzu's admonition to profoundly know your enemy, include some liberal sources. And, of course, read RightinSanFrancisco weekly.
2. Communicate. This takes some sorting out of friends and relatives who would be disinterested or offended and avoidance of business associates. That said, a broadly distributed Facebook page designed to make cogent comments and forward insightful articles can be a great multiplier. (Please "share" RightinSanFrancisco weekly.) Beyond that, talking is good.
3. Join and attend. I view the national Tea Party organizations as transitory and replete with opportunists trying to make a buck off of the movement; but the locals will be highly effective this election cycle. If you haven't been to an event, find one in your area if just for the experience. The best national umbrella organization is Tea Party Patriots; Tea Party Express operates at a national level with bus tours, endorsements, and debate sponsorships. Freedom Works lobbies and trains organizers. Google Tea Party and your locale.
4. Support good candidates. Below the presidential level this gets tricky. Even in the broader Bay Area there are a few worth supporting (Mayor Abram Wilson of San Ramon; Ricky Gill against Congressional incumbent Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton), but this is best played on the margins where one can actually win. Looking more broadly, pick a swing district in the Central Valley or in the Midwest where there is somebody that you like. For one, try Don Stenberg to beat Senator Ben Nelson in Nebraska. Send money.
As for president, just about all conservatives that I know or follow start from the predominant objective of beating President Obama. (Can you even imagine a Democratic campaign chant of "four more years"?) It is possible that Rick Perry will up his game to the point that he thinks and talks nationally and internationally, but to this point he is all about Texas and would be a less formidable candidate against Obama than would Mitt Romney. Other than Romney, I don't think any of the other candidates come close to the three requirements - although, truth be told, Jon Huntsman doesn't look bad on the "beat Obama" and "govern well" criteria.
Think in two phases. In the primaries support the candidate of your choice in your state. In the general election, if your state is not in play either way, support the Republican effort in a swing state. If there is a chance for the Republican candidate to win California, it won't be necessary. But Missouri, Ohio, or Florida ...
Politics is a contact sport. Now, go to work!!!
This week's video is a 25 minute Q & A by Paul Ryan at the Heritage Foundation, covering a broad range of economic and political questions in an articulate, candid, and philosophical manner. Contributions to Ryan will wind up in the right place.