Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tea Party Returns to Boston

One year ago, on January 20, Barack Obama was sworn into office on a message of hope and change but that was really about government control, increases taxes, and massive spending.

In response to the bailouts, stimulus packages, government takeovers, and other proposals such as cap and trade, card check, and now ObamaCare, the tea party movement was born. It first began in small gatherings at local Congressional offices and other small protests around the country. It then turned into a national protest on tax day, and the media began to take notice.

The question at the time -- a question we covered here at Kaw & Border -- was about whether the tea parties could turn into a real political movement that could achieve political victory. After all, the tea party movement is not represented by any one organization or individual, which is probably it's strength -- it is a true grassroots network of independents, conservatives and traditional Republicans -- all whom are deeply concerned about the road our nation is going down.

Elections are also not won on street corners or in protests, but by funding and supporting political campaigns that aim to replace those in office who are causing the damage to America. I order for a movement to truly gain stature in the American political system, it must achieve positive results at the ballot box. Otherwise, they will lose steam and be marganlized.

The first test of the tea party movement came in the November 2009 elections. They could certainly claim partial credit in the wins in Virginia and New Jersey, though one could claim that those elections may have happened anyway given the resurgence of Republicans in Virginia and the unpopularity of John Corzine. They also achieved a partial victory in New York -- ensuring that RINO Dede Scozzafava did not get seated but failing to get Doug Hoffman over the top. However, it could be argued that Doug Hoffman was not a great candidate.

However, in a twist of historical irony, the tea party returns to Massachusetts in the form of a political brigade aiming to claim the vacant Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy. Amazingly, the special election is also being held on Tuesday, January 19, exactly a year from Obama's inauguration.

Even with Obama's sinking numbers, Democrats thought they had this one in the bag. Unfortunately for them, their candidate -- Martha Coakley -- is turning out to be a real dud -- and the Republicans, unlike in the NY-23 race, have recruited a potential star in Scott Brown, who comes across, while a registered Republican -- as an independent conservative voice -- the kind of candidate that will succeed in 2010 (take notice, national and local Republicans!).

And, polling is reflecting that. A week ago, Rasmussen showed Hoffman down just 9 points -- still a healthy margin with only two weeks left. Now, that margin is down to 49-47 in a new poll by Rasmussen. Just this week, Brown had a money bomb that raised over $1 million dollars in one day, a phenomenal amount of money.

He also dominated her in a debate, and had a line that all candidates dream of making -- the kind that will set the tone for the campaign and can win you an election. In response to a question asked by David Gergen regarding whether he was willing to let health care reform die as the representative of "Ted Kennedy's Senate seat", Brown said "This isn't the Ted Kennedy seat or the Democrats seat, it's the people's seat."

At that point, it seemed like nothing else mattered. He's an insurgent candidate with a grasp of the issues and his conservative message is playing very well in Massachusetts, of all places.

The race will be tight next week but the fact it is now a tossup shows you just how far the Democrats have fallen. A Brown victory will be a political earthquake not felt since 1994 -- the safest of all safe seats taken over by a Republican -- a conservative Republican -- funded and supported by tea partiers coast to coast -- that caused the death of ObamaCare and the beginning of the end for the current regime in Washington.

What is also shows is the awesome political power the tea party and conservative movements can wield when they focus their efforts. Brown raising $1 million in a day is amazing, but candidates nationwide could benefit from this political insurgency and would only need a fraction of that effort. Most primary elections in Congressional races can be won with just a few hundred thousand dollars. State legislative elections can be won with well under $100,000, depending on the size of the district.

The challenge for the tea party movement will be in deciding which candidates to support. More than one viable candidate may emerge in a particular race. But perhaps that isn't a problem after all -- perhaps what the Massachusetts example shows is that political offices will no longer be controlled by back room deal, whether they occur in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Perhaps it will be left to the candidates themselves and the movements they represent to rise up and earn support and get the word out about their campaigns.

Perhaps, once again, elections will truly decided by the people. That, no matter what your persusasion is, is a very good thing.