Tea Partiers Celebrate Victories, Say Romney-Ryan Ticket Was Too Moderate

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: November 9, 2012 3:55 AM
Orlando Tea Party Rally

Orlando Tea Party rally | Credit: Ira Bostic - Shutterstock

While some are arguing Tuesday night’s election returns signaled a repudiation of the conservative “tea party” wave that swept the nation in the years immediately following the 2008 election, leaders and insiders within the movement insist they're not going away anytime soon.

“The phrase ‘tea party’ became a catch-all term for a lot of different things; but if you look at the liberty movement, the one started by Congressman Ron Paul in 2007/2008, we’re seeing more excitement than ever,” Matthew Hawes, vice president of Campaign for Liberty, a libertarian political organization founded by Paul, told Sunshine State News. “We’re seeing a lot of progress.”

While Republicans failed to retake the White House or the Senate, and several of their members in the House of Representatives lost their seats to Democratic challengers, there may be some basis to Hawes’ optimism.

Of the 87 Republican freshmen congressmen who rode the tea party wave in 2010, just nine lost their new seats Tuesday. Of the 55 members of the House’s official “Tea Party Caucus” who ran for re-election, at least 51 did so successfully.

Likewise, the libertarian conservatism represented by the likes of soon-to-retire Texas congressman Ron Paul saw several victories. Of the 17 House and Senate candidates endorsed by Paul, 12 of them were elected or re-elected, including Senate newcomer Ted Cruz of Texas and House newcomer Ted Yoho of North Central Florida.

Indeed, Hawes suggests that Republican nominee Mitt Romney failed in his presidential bid precisely because his platform and persona did not align with the tea party, and so did not present a credible alternative to what the Democrats had to offer.

“In both 2008 and 2012 the Republicans had presidential nominees who were defenders of the establishment and status quo, so it was really hard to get a lot of those same people who came out in 2010 charged up again,” he says. “The standard-bearers of the party don’t really present much of a contrast between themselves and the [Democratic] opposition. The Republican Party took a more ‘moderate’ line, instead of sticking to winning issues like getting back to the Constitution and restricting the power of government.”

A Republican-leaning consultant who served as an adviser to one of the incoming “Ron Paulian” freshmen, was more blunt in his assessment.

“The tea party got in bed with the Republican establishment and this is how it paid off,” the consultant told Sunshine State News on condition of anonymity. “They turn to a guy from Massachusetts who was the living embodiment of everything they hated in that establishment: he was pro-socialized medicine, pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage until 2006, when he began to run for president. Mitt Romney’s new-found conservatism was pure cynicism and the tea party fell for it.”

The consultant said part of the problem with assessing the future of the tea party is the apparent inability of anyone to pinpoint what exactly it stands for.

“Everyone and their mother claims to be a tea partier,” he tells the News. “Yes, you’ve got Ron Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, Jimmy Duncan, Ted Cruz, Walter Jones, and a few others. But I see no evidence that the tea party, by and large, is anyone else than your typical Republican voter.

“We’ve got two parties of big government, and that’s all there is to it,” he continues. “One’s offering you butter, the other’s offering you guns. Do you want your guns, or do you want your butter?”

Abigail MacIver, director of policy and external affairs at Americans for Prosperity Florida, insists the tea party does have a definable content, if not a definite constituency.

“The tea party is not so much a group as it is a set of ideals: limited government, less taxes, and free markets; those are the principles the tea party is founded upon,” she tells the News.

“This cycle the Democrats very falsely, yet very successfully, blamed their policy failures on the conservatives who were elected in 2010,” she continues. “We’re already seeing the continued effects of the policies since Obama’s re-election Tuesday: the stock market dropping in reaction to the news of four more years of his policy, and we’re on our way to a potential downgrade of our credit rating, and thousands of jobs being eliminated.

“If this continues and the Democrats try to tax-and-spend their way out of it, just as they’ve been doing the last four years, more and more people are going to gravitate toward the limited government free-market ideals of the tea party, regardless of whether they actually refer to themselves as ‘tea partiers.’”

Hawes agrees, and says his organization will join MacIver’s in educating citizens on those very ideals, in preparation for what he hopes will produce more electoral gains in 2014 and 2016.

“In terms of the liberty movement, it’s full steam ahead,” he says. “It’s more important than ever to get the federal government back to its limited, [enumerated] Article I Section 8 constitutional powers, to get the states to assume their constitutional role to protect their people’s freedoms. We’re going to educate folks on issues like auditing the federal reserve; reforming our monetary policy; standing up for civil liberties; warning people about expanding drone usage, including domestically; health care freedom as a alternative to the current system; and talking more about foreign policy and the need to end the nation-building and foreign aid that’s getting us nowhere.”

His own Paul-backed candidate’s recent successes notwithstanding, the consultant who talked with the News was much more cynical about the tea party’s future prospects.

“Their party loyalty trumps their principles,” he opines. “The tea party will continue to be a major force so long as there is a Democrat in the White House. As soon as a Republican is in power, they’re going to go crawl back under the rock from which they came.

“Just look at Paul Ryan – a man who had absolutely no problem with big debts and big spending when it was under George W. Bush – is he a tea partier?” the consultant asks. “Some libertarian exceptions aside, so-called tea partiers are perfectly fine with big government as long as an elephant is writing the checks instead of a donkey.”

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews or at (954) 235-9116. 

Comments (16)

11:34AM NOV 13TH 2012
So 10% of the TeaPublicans lost their seats. Would that applied to the whole of the Republican House.In point of fact that makes the TeaPublicans the biigest losers, even with huge advantages by means of gerrymandered districts because of the State elections in 2010 which resulted in 244 safe Republican seats and only 45 safe Democratic seats. Dems outperformed expectations, Reps underperformed.
Roger Bennett
11:43PM NOV 9TH 2012
Teabaggers insist on proving their stupidity and ignorance over and over and over again. Good riddance.
10:22PM NOV 9TH 2012
Confused by the title of this column, it says 'Tea Partiers Celebrate', yet reflects the attitude of Ron Paul libertarians. Not exactly one and the same, not by a long shot. And it is a myth to equate the activities of Ron Paul supporters in 2007 with the tea party. The modern day tea party came to life following Rick Santelli's famous rant in Feb '09. And while the so called 'Liberty movement' may be in a festive move, it is due to little more than the obsession they have in seeing the GOP fail and because they refuse to differentiate between Romney and Obama.

While there is much truth to the suggestion that some in the tea party sold out to the GOP, to suggest that the tea party "turned to a guy from Massachusetts" is a crock and is little more than sour grapes as a result of the tea party refusing to back a candidate with no chance of success (RP) after it became clear Romney would be the nominee. The tea party supported other candidates in the primary and only coalesced around Romney once it was determined he was the candidate - a fact the Ron Paulers still can't come to grips with.
4:47PM NOV 9TH 2012
"Obama’s re-election Tuesday: the stock market dropping in reaction to the news of four more years of his policy"


But keep pushing the GOP to the far right, it will be the end of The GOP and maybe a new, more diverse party will RISE :)
4:45PM NOV 9TH 2012
These teabangers are serious nincompoops!

The 2014 House and Senate elections will more clearly prove the point.
11:58AM NOV 9TH 2012
Agree with Mike. The Tea Party "leaders" intent on taking out Republicans have sowed the seeds for their own demise - and the rest of our demise by expanding the numbers for Democrats in the US Senate. Just wait until Scalia or Thomas croaks and they are replaced with a liberal justice and confirmed by the US Senate. Its game over for the Constitution.

Get ready, because thats in the liberal playbook. That, and continuing to watch Tea Party leaders annihilate other Republicans in a dwindling minority.

Oh, and lets make sure we piss off Hispanics too. By far, the hardest working minority group in this country - BY FAR. Should be Republicans 50-50 but they arent.
9:14AM NOV 9TH 2012
These AFP people need to go away for a while. Congratulations on getting rid of Dick Luger and electing a Democrat in a conservative state. Another Harry Reid vote brought to you be the same people who brought you that nutjob Sharon Angle, buck in Colorado, Aiken...if the Repubs had nominated a minstream conservative that can TALK without stepping on their tails, Harry Reid would be minority leader
12:01PM NOV 9TH 2012
If the AFP had gone away, Romney would have lost by 10 million.
7:46PM NOV 9TH 2012
Yes, just what this increasingly multi-cultural society desires, further far right-wing ideological wackiness . . . . elimination of social security, medicare, demonization of immigrants, voter suppression of minorities, mandatory un-necessary invasive vaginal procedures and rape pregnancies as a god driven pronuncement for women, all coupled with non-issues like the Agenda 21 conspiracy theories that the UN is taking over the sovereignty of the U.S. . . . . .

Just what America wants . . . . more Todd Akins, Richard Mourdocks, Allen Wests and Rick Scotts . . . .

Pathetic . . . . . and living in Tea Party LaLaLand . . . . .
8:54AM NOV 9TH 2012
the tea party may have a few things in common with libertarians but not much. i have voted for libertarians many times, i would never ever vote for a tea party candidate. with the tea party comes, we are always right, short sighted behavior, violations of basic constitutional principles, human rights and religious freedom are out the door. unless of course it's all of the above that benefit them.
8:22AM NOV 9TH 2012
They don't have the common sense to realize that had he been TOO FAR right, he would have lost by a bigger margin!

The extremists have to learn that to win a NATIONAL election, you HAVE to appeal to ALL OF US, not just the wackjobs.
12:09PM NOV 9TH 2012
Wait a minute...Did I hear you right..
Romney was rightwing?
4:47PM NOV 9TH 2012
Apparently ... Romney has NO wings!
7:31AM NOV 9TH 2012
"Some libertarian exceptions aside, so-called tea partiers are perfectly fine with big government as long as an elephant is writing the checks instead of a donkey.”

Which is why I also have a cynical view of the Tea party. And if the Tea party is so for standing up for civil liberties, then why should it have mattered if Romney was once pro-choice or for same sex marraige?
Tom Reynolds
7:25AM NOV 9TH 2012
The folks who are claiming victory are the winners of...................... The Dumber Than A box of Rocks voting contest !
Tom Reynolds
7:24AM NOV 9TH 2012
The folks who are claiming victory are the winners of...................... The Dumber Than A box of Rocks voting contest !

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.