Recently, Jim DeMint wondered aloud about the where the TEA party was heading:
"What's up with the Tea Party right now?" asked Heritage President Ed Feulner near the end of the meeting. "We're not hearing much right now."
"I really don't know," DeMint said. "As I move around, people are telling me they're out there and they're engaged, but since the election they have not had as much of a focus."
DeMint also told people not to endorse candidates early in the 2012 election:
In the meantime, he said, he's warning fellow conservatives to keep their mouths shut when it comes to making endorsements this early in the game.
"I think we're going to have a good field," DeMint said. "I'm encouraging people...not to endorse early. One of the things I found out last time is as soon as you endorse the candidates, they stop listening and go on to endorse somebody else. The longer we all hold out as conservatives the better chance we have of uniting behind a candidate to make sure our nominee reflects the heart and soul of our party."
I hate to brag, but I saw this problem coming a long time ago. In April of 2010, I wrote an article warning the tea party not to get involved in endorsing candidates running for office. Seven months later, in November of 2010, I wrote another article about how the TEA party "leaders" were betraying the movement by claiming to be voice of millions of people who poured out into the streets in anger at how our government was mismanaging our tax payer money when there was never supposed to be leaders in the movement.
There fact that the TEA party is losing its focus is directly related to the misguided attempt to become a kingmaker in the upcoming Presidential election. The TEA party is losing its focus because they're more concerned with elections and campaigns rather than issues. Many TEA party organizations are trying to get candidates to sign pledges, or endorsing one conservative candidate over another while attacking other conservative candidates. And the TEA party will lose its way if it keeps doing this during the 2012 Presidential elections.
Which is why I'm hesitant about Jim DeMint hosting a TEA party sponsored Presidential debate. I'm not sure how I feel about it since some are advertising this event as a way to break the mainstream media's control over the presidential debate and actually asking serious questions to the candidates. I'll hold my judgment for now.
However, not everyone in the TEA party movement is losing their focus. Some people are doing right things by focusing on issues like the Balanced Budget Amendment, whether or not we should raise the debt ceiling, opposing increases in taxes and opposing ObamaCare.
If the TEA party wants to continue to be relevant beyond 2012, it needs to stick strictly with its message of financial accountability and responsibility in government. By focusing on these issues, it will get the candidates they want in office because candidates will not only have to work on getting their vote but remain viligant in wisely managing our tax payer money. If they don't, they know they will face the wrath of the TEA party in the next election.
However, if the TEA party focuses on providing endorsements for candidates and becoming a vehicle to attack other candidates, then they will get the candidate they want but they will do it at the cost of diluting their movement's power. Moreover, they will be less vigilant in keeping the country financially secure and more focused on playing kingmaker. By seeking to become king makers, they will become like other special interests groups that politicians pander to. Once the average and everyday Americans see that that what the TEA party has become, they will leave the movement. At some point, the movement will fade away because it will have lost its focus.
I don't want the TEA party to lose focus and fade away. This movement has been the best thing that has happened to conservatism, the Republican party and for America. I hope it remains that way for a long time.