Recently, a Utah Tea Party leader and a national Tea party leader have spoken out against Mitt Romney for various positions that he has taken. Having TEA party leaders giving or withholding endorsements troubles me. This isn't a new concern of mine. I've expressed my concern on this issue in a previous article.
I have some new additional concerns that I did not express in the earlier article. Lured by the temptation of political power, these leaders are betraying the very principles of what made the TEA Party so successful and powerful in the first place.
One of the most popular books among the Tea Party movement is "The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations" in which the book argues that leaderless organizations are more effective than governments and corporations in making positive changes to society. Politico explains why the book was a political bestseller in 2009:
"The book was first published in 2006 — three years before the tea party movement burst onto the scene with mass protests against what it regarded as President Barack Obama’s unchecked expansion of government. But the idea that scrappy starfish groups can beat imposing spider institutions resonates deeply with tea partiers, who have vigilantly enforced their occasionally chaotic structure against would-be leaders, an eager GOP, and conventional Washington wisdom questioning whether an infrastructureless group can succeed in Big Money electoral politics."
By having people who are claiming to be "official" representatives of the Tea Party movement, they are transforming and diluting the movement that made it so effective. The power behind this group is that it was a leaderless grassroots movement in which like minded people who were outraged about the growing size and scope of the federal government as well as the financial irresponsibility that came along with increasingly expansive government. Nobody was elected to the the official spokesperson. And there was never an intent to have spokesperson for the group. And while some of these groups and many individuals have had a positive overall effect, they do NOT represent the movement. But by becoming an organized political organization, the voices of millions of people will be ignored because its much easier to get a single representative on television rather than talk to a wide variety of people to get their feelings on a particular issue.
You would think that Mitt Romney possesses the qualities TEA partiers dream of in their 2012 candidate. Braden at BlogCritics.org: Dear Tea Party, Mitt Romney is Your Friend explains why this is:
"Based on issues alone, it would be logical to conclude that Mitt Romney is in agreement with the vast majority of Tea Party principles. He balanced the budget for four consecutive years in a blue state without raising taxes. Isn't that what the TEA in Tea Party stands for, Taxed Enough Already? The very premise of the Tea Party movement is in accordance with Romney's record.
But what about RomneyCare? RomneyCare, signed into law by Romney in 2006, is a state-based healthcare plan with striking similarities to ObamaCare. However, unlike ObamaCare, RomneyCare did not raise taxes. But the bigger and more important difference is that RomneyCare was a state program and not a federal one. If states' rights and federalism are truly important to the Tea Party, they would readily recognize this distinction. And on top of all this, Romney has consistently voiced his support for the repeal of ObamaCare."
RomneyCare is 100% a state rights issue. Mitt Romney proposed a health care plan that would apply Massachusetts and only to Massachusetts. Moreover, the people of Mass overwhelmingly supported RomneyCare then and they support it now.
Braden thinks that reason behind opposition to Mitt Romney within certain ranks of the TEA party movement is based on irrational fear. I think its based on irrational anger. The American people have every right to be upset with Obama instituting his health care plan despite overwhelming opposition to it. However, what is bizzare is their anger towards Mitt Romney.
Here's why I find the anger towards RomneyCare so irrational. After the conservative wave of in the Congressional elections of1994, Bill Clinton decided to boost his popularity by stealing a conservative idea: welfare reform. Conservatives had twice attempted to pass welfare reform but he vetoed them. However, Clinton got Congress to pass the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, also known as the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Not only did he steal the idea but his plan was conservative to the core. He is still proud of signing the law.
I don't recall conservatives getting mad at Newt Gingrich for partnering with Bill Clinton on reforming welfare. In fact, it was liberals and progressives who were mad at Clinton for signing a conservative piece of legislation. Even three members in the Clinton Administration were so angry at Bill that they resigned after the law was passed. Why were they so upset with Bill Clinton? They were not upset with the conservatives who were successful on their third attempt to reform welfare based on conservative principles but they were upset with him because he abandoned liberalism and progressive ideas when he signed the law.
In contrast, what Obama did was to take a conservative idea, corrupt it by changing the conservative idea into a progressive one, and foisted it on the America people. Liberals and progressives are happy with Obama. Its no mystery why Conservatives are unhappy with Obama.
But they're also unhappy with Mitt Romney. That is a mystery to me. Unlike Bill Clinton who abandoned his party's beliefs and principles in signing the conservative welfare reform into law, Mitt Romney didn't abandon or betray any conservative principles when he created RomneyCare. Mitt got his idea for state wide individual mandates from the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation and simply integrated that idea into his health care plan. After all, the idea for individual mandates was alternative proposal to HilliaryCare during the Clinton Administration.
Thus, the only explanation I can think of is that they're angry for Romney simply because Obama used and corrupted Romney's plan. Now that Obama corrupted the conservative idea of individual mandates, many conservatives who were once for it are now against it. If Obama hadn't perverted the conservative idea of individual mandates, many conservatives would have been supportive of RomneyCare. And that, to me, is irrational anger towards the former governor of Massachusetts.
The truth is that if Obama hadn't used Romney's plan but looked around and used another conservative governor's plan, many would be pissed with that governor. In fact, Obama would have created ObamaCare without or without using Romney or any other conservative health care reform plan. He could have attempted to pass a similar version of HillaryCare. I contend that Obama simply claimed that he used RomneyCare as a template knowing how toxic his health care plan was to the American people just as a political tactic to hobble a potential 2012 candidate who could be his challenger in the general election.
In the end, conservatives, independents and tea partiers should not be angry with Mitt Romney at all. When it comes to health care reform, Mitt has consistently stood for conservative principles. He hasn't abandoned or betrayed those ideas at all. Instead, conservatives, independents and tea partiers should be angry at those who claim to lead and speak for the TEA party because they are the ones who are abandoning, diluting and twisting everything that the TEA party stands for as they express their opposition to Mitt Romney.
I'm not saying people shouldn't criticize or opposes Mitt Romney. People are free to do so. All I'm pointing out is the inconsistency in the so called "leaders" of the TEA Party which ultimately betrays the purpose, beliefs and goals of the TEA party movement.