Earlier in June, President Bill Clinton’s former campaign adviser and election maestro James Carville proclaimed that “the Tea Party is over.”
This quote couldn’t be further from the truth, of course. Since June, the Tea Party has notched a number of high-profile election victories — most notable of which was Ted Cruz’s Senate primary win in Texas — and has helped shaped the conversation in conservative politics. Massive fiscal restraint and lowered taxes will be the hallmark of the Republican Party not only in this election cycle, but for years to come.
Newly-minted GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan preaches it, and has been one of the top architects of a reigned in U.S. budget. At the Republican National Convention next week top Tea Partiers Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, and Cruz (to name a few) will all give speeches.
Each will preach policies central to the Tea Party platform: less government spending, U.S. military withdraw from foreign soil, no government intervention in the economy, less still government intervention in social issues.
But the biggest name who has advocated these policies will be absent for the RNC.
Why isn’t Ron Paul speaking?
I need to clarify here: Ron Paul is by no means a Tea Party politician. He is, instead, a libertarian, who’s principles are guided by mostly free market values. The Tea Party, though believing in the free market and less government intervention in the economy, has been less principled in their own politicking. Tea Party aims have sometimes been mixed, and there isn’t always a clear agenda. Some Tea Partiers have sought to push social issues like traditional marriage or have seemed to only act in obstructionist ways while in office. Libertarians, though, are another breed, driven singularly by capitalistic principles.
Michele Bachman = Tea Party. Rand Paul = libertarian.
The distinction here is important, but also underscores the new sects which have bubbled up in the Republican Party. The GOP, once considered the party which marshals its followers behind a single banner, now has to contend with a schism in its ranks. But the GOP can’t turn its back on its own followers. Whether conservatives like it or not, the Republican Party is now filled with different view points on how to approach the policy decisions of our time. Mitt Romney is by no means a Southern conservative Republican, and Sarah Palin is no economic free market champion.
Enter Ron Paul, the GOP figurehead of the libertarian movement. He has been alienated by the GOP, despite leading a popular and successful 2012 presidential run, one in which he was especially able to mobilize young voters and lead a viral internet campaign — something Romney in comparison has failed to do. By some counts, Ron Paul will have as many as 500 delegates at the RNC next week, a massive haul for a politician some people call a fringe candidate.
Sidelining Ron Paul means the GOP is sidelining one of it’s biggest assets in election 2012. They’ll lose out on the energy that the Ron Paul campaign brings, and risk alienating a voting bloc for years to come, one which may now instead turn to other parties. Libertarianism won’t go away, either, and will only continue to be a driving force in American politics. One poll actually finds that there are more people who identify as libertarians than conservatives in America
“The GOP is absolutely shooting themselves in the foot with the way they are handling the Paul grassroots organization and the libertarians trying to work within the party,” PolicyMic libertarian expert Robert Taylor said. “Romney may well get the nomination, but not after some battling. More so, alienating potentially 15% to 20% of possible Republican votes is suicide in the general election.”
And suicide is exactly what the GOP now seems to be doing.
If the GOP hopes to win this election, they must be more inclusionary of other groups.
The rigidity of the Republican Party is absurd. Let Ron Paul talk.