Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks have a column in today’s Wall Street Journal that explains the spontaneous, grassroots phenomenon of tea parties. They have plenty of interesting political and social analysis, but the most important part of their column is when they point out that the tea party movement is not a GOP-support organization. Instead, the tea party is engaging in a hostile takeover, forcing out the establishment Republican politicians that have become philosophically corrupted by the back-scratching network in Washington.
The tea party movement has blossomed into a powerful social phenomenon because it is leaderless—not directed by any one mind, political party or parochial agenda. The criteria for membership are straightforward: Stay true to principle even when it proves inconvenient, be assertive but respectful, add value and don’t taking credit for other people’s work. Our community is built on the Trader Principle: We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. These were the principles that enabled the Sept. 12, 2009 taxpayer march on Washington to be one of the largest political protests in the history of our nation’s capital. …While the tea party is not a formal political party, local networks across the nation have moved beyond protests and turned to more practical matters of political accountability. Already, particularly in Republican primaries, fed-up Americans are turning out at the polls to vote out the big spenders. They are supporting candidates who have signed the Contract From America, a statement of policy principles generated online by hundreds of thousands of grass-roots activists. Published in April, the Contract amounts to a tea party “seal of approval.” It demands fiscal policies that limit government, restrain spending, promote market reforms in health care—and oppose ObamaCare, tax hikes and cap-and-trade restrictions that will kill job creation and stunt economic growth. Candidates who have signed the Contract—including Marco Rubio in Florida, Mike Lee in Utah and Tim Scott in South Carolina—have defeated Republican big spenders in primary elections all across the nation. These young legislative entrepreneurs will shift the balance in the next Congress, bringing with them a more serious, adult commitment to responsible, restrained government. But let us be clear about one thing: The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.