Tuesday, July 31, 2012
A Mature Tea Party
People have asked me whether I am part of the Tea Party. I tell them I was the Tea Party before there was such a thing. I ran for office in one of the biggest towns in this state almost 10 years ago. An old friend asked me to join his slate of candidates who were running on an anti corruption theme. I was idealistic, motivated and looking to change the status quo.
I have always been blessed with good friends. After I signed on to the campaign, I talked to several people about how successful campaigns have been run. Successful campaigns have money. Our campaign had none. Successful campaigns used polls. We had no money for polls. Successful campaigns used existing organizations. Our campaign alienated the establishment because we threw lightning bolts at them. Successful campaigns employ a disciplined poll tested positive message and then use the October surprise. We went ugly early. By the middle of the campaign, the only way we could get our message out was to appeal to the press. I am proud to say we managed to get above the fold on the Sunday paper. We got hit by an October surprise.
We got beat like a used mule. In the following years though, Chris Christie announced indictment after indictment for political corruption in town after town. There were no indictments in my town. I like to think I made a difference on an issue that was important to me.
Sometimes I felt pangs of nostalgia as I watched the Tea Party make mistake after mistake. I know that I learned, so I know that Tea Party activists have learned. The business of running successful campaigns is no longer the sacred fire of the political establishment.
I have argued here, on little more than intuition, that with Obamacare and the rising regulatory state, our nation will see future growth on a par with France. Some of the most brilliant economists and trading strategists disagree, reasoning that growth returns five years after a severe financial shock. I believe this reasoning to be a backward looking error.
Politics can be extraordinarily backward looking. The keepers of the political sacred fire make strategy decisions based on what worked in the past. I believe the political chattering class completely underestimates the Tea Party. Solid conservatives have learned about message control. They have learned how to dance the dance with the press. The Tea Party has matured.
Today I will be looking to Texas, to see whether the holders of the sacred fire backing Dewhurst will win out over the Tea Party that backs Cruz. I am hoping for more intuitive evidence that the old model that predicts a close presidential election no longer applies. It would kill me to think we are becoming France.