by Tim Baldwin
In the midst of what some TEA Partiers perceive as “stonewalling” TEA Party leaders like Rand Paul and Mike Lee, evidence suggests that these men are more sensitive to building consensus in the Republican Party than simply fighting for all conservative principles at all cost.
In a recent public statement, Harry Reid revealed what he perceived about Rand Paul in a long private conversation with Paul. Reid said about the TEA-Party-loved Senator, “I spent a lot of time with him and I’ve grown to really like him…Even though he has some set political views, he wants to get things done here.” Reid then lumped Paul in with the other Republicans and stated that all the Republicans want to “get things done.” Perhaps this is because Republicans are getting tired of losing at every turn against a seemingly more cohesive Democrat Party.
Paul is not alone in demonstrating his willingness to work with other Republicans to “get things done.” Another TEA-Party-loved congressman, Mike Lee, recently said in his speech to a Heritage Foundation audience focusing on What’s Next For Conservatives,
For us, optimism is not just a message; it is a principle…[American conservatism at its core] is…about inclusion. Successful political movements are about identifying converts, not heretics. This, too, is part of the challenge before us.
Lee went further to cite Ronald Reagan, stating we should talk to anyone “about the principles of the Republican Party. Conservatism is not a narrow ideology.” This is a striking contrast to how most TEA Partiers (especially purists) portray the need for Washington D.C.
Absolutely intertwined in the fabric of Lee’s message of conservative principles were the principles of political parties and tactics. Quite notably, Lee emphasized conservatism and the Republican Party more than he did “liberty” and the “constitution”—probably the two most widely used words among TEA Partiers.
Of course, inclusion of the kind Lee describes can only mean getting all Republicans—TEA Party and Neo-con alike—to join on fundamental ideas of conservatism. Getting to where the rubber meets the road of a simple, modern application of this message, “getting things done” and “inclusion” of the Republican Party may simply mean agreeing that we should work to preserve a Federalist Republic and defeat a Socialist Republic. How that translates into policy and law is up for anyone’s analysis.
What is certain, however, is this: if TEA Party leaders like Rand Paul and Mike Lee are gearing the TEA Party for the message of “inclusion” and “getting things done,” perhaps they perceive what many in the TEA Party do not: that without actual victories for the Republican Party, the Democrats will have no viable competition and will dominate federal politics for decades, just as the Democratic Party did against the Federalist Party (the Party that championed the Constitution’s ratification!) during the first half of the 19th century. And as history shows, the result of that contest was the extinction of the Federalist Party.