Monday, February 14, 2011

The Tea Party and The RNC

I had several interesting conversations over the weekend with people who worked to help elect some tea party candidates in November.  One has actually chosen to move to DC and is now working on The Hill for that same person.  Both are strongly conservative and like the message of The Tea Party. 

But, they are both convinced that the Tea Party will be the reason that President Obama gets re-elected.  One was telling that while she was very happy to get the volunteers in to help her candidate, they were more problems than what they were worth.  They would refuse to use the phone banking systems once they found that the party paid for them, they wouldn't do the door knocking in the targeted way the campaign wanted them to and just all around gave her a hard time.  Again, the person she was working for was beloved by The Tea Party and because of them they were able to raise enough money to be competitive in the race when they were way down in the polls, but as the poll numbers raised, the support from the party did as well.  That was when the campaign was really able to afford more targeted campaigning. 

Regardless of how you feel about the party and who they choose to stand behind financially, they play an important role in getting people elected.  The get out the vote efforts are usually paid for by the party as well as the phone systems that will allow a candidate to do advanced phone banking.  Any candidate would be crazy to turn that down.  I have heard people say that they won't send the party money and part of the reason is that they don't necessarily back the candidates that they want them to back.  While it is true that the party has to pick and choose, it wouldn't make sense for them to pour a great deal of limited resources into a race that doesn't look a win is possible.  It doesn't matter if they are truly a good candidate or not.  The money is limited and needs to be spent on the candidates that have a viable chance of winning. 

Some of the people I spoke to are still smarting over the loss of some of the senate seats that they felt were winnable had it not been for the tea party, but that is neither here nor there at this point.  What's done is done and they need to get over it.  But there are some lessons to be learned by what they are saying.  Campaigns are very expensive and the party is necessary to help with that in many cases.  The Tea Party can't possibly fully finance every candidate that they like, especially in the next cycle when there will be a presidential election as well. 

I am not sure what the lesson that I learned from these conversations was, but it was interesting to hear what they had to say.  I guess the main lesson that I learned was that if we really want to make a change it has to be done from within, and the tea party is going to have to work with the party in order to change to it. 


RightKlik said...

The GOP is going to have to work with the Tea Party. And not just in a lip-service mode.

In some cases, the GOP and its sore losers are downright hostile to the Tea Party movement and other conservative grassroots forces. To wit, Richard Lugar; to wit, Lisa Murkowski; to wit, Charlie Crist; to wit, Dede Scozzafava; etc... There's no way the GOP can expect to have a good relationship with the tea party movement without a major attitude adjustment. Within the establishment GOP, personal aggrandizement has trumped principle AND party.

Moreover, I don't think GOP cash flow has been suppressed by the Tea Party. Had the Tea Party movement not formed, would the GOP be raising more money?

Another question... Would the GOP have regained the House had it not been for the influence of the Tea Party? We almost take the victories of 2010 for granted now, but before the rise of the tea party, the outlook was quite different.

That doesn't excuse irrational stubbornness from extreme purists, but I don't think that irrational purists have ever had -- or ever will have -- much impact.

When the GOP establishment aligns itself with the people, I think the cash flow will improve. Until then, the tea party will continue to work within the party by throwing support behind individual candidates.

PS: I love this one from Milton F:

Just a conservative girl said...

I personally believe that they really shouldn't be working all that closely together anyway. The person who told me this worked for a candidate I know for a fact that you approved of, so it isn't a Lugar thing. You would never hear this person say anything but postive things about the tea party.

I think that what she was saying is that professional campaign operatives shouldn't be given such a hard time by volunteers, when they are very naive on how a campaign runs. Her personal experience was that her volunteers were rabidly purist that they got in the way. Luckily, he won anyway.

I helped with two local campaigns that had many tea party volunteers and we didn't behave that way. We did what we were asked to do, and didn't complain. We were thrilled when the party finally paid for the phone system. So I think it was just her personal experience. One of the other people that I spoke to about this stuff will always put the party before the tea party. He has been on the Hill a long time now, has worked his way up and has a very powerful position for someone who was never elected to anything. So he and I go at it from time to time. It keeps up both on our toes!!

Justin said...

well said. The Tea Party should learn from Reagan's example. He basically built the conservative power in the Republican Party. People tried to get him to start a third-party, but he wisely rejected that idea. He felt conservatives should work for change within in the party (campaign in primaries, get elected to offices in party appartus, etc.) He stuck with it too. After Ford bested him in '76, Reagan didn't go off and pout. He campaigned for Ford as hard as he could. Basically, he was a great team player...and that's one of the things that ultimately made him a great coach.

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