Change Tea Party Goals?

In the past week, there has been a call for the Tea Parties to introduce social issues into their "platform." 

Same-sex marriage, abortion, repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the teaching of abstinence over contraception, and numerous other agenda items of importance to social and religious conservatives have been put forth as issues that the Tea Parties should embrace. Not only should these issues be embraced, but the Tea Parties have been told that they must reconfigure their existing agenda and work toward solutions that satisfy the yearnings of these very same social and religious conservatives.

Of course, these issues are of overwhelming importance to a significant number of people. I respect that these people are sincere and truly feel that the country will be hurt beyond redemption should things continue as they are. But a significant number of vocal people do not a political majority make. 

The recent midterm elections were a decisive repudiation of the direction that the Democratic Party has taken the nation in the past four years, but there has been a seismic shift in what issues the majority of Americans believe to be important. What many of these religious and social conservatives fail to understand is that not one of their issues had any real bearing on the outcome of an election that swept sixty-plus Democrats from Congress and countless others from state and local offices. To be sure, some of the Republican winners might support some issues that social conservatives feel are important, but it was not those issues that garnered the candidate votes from independents.

This doesn't mean that the average American believes these social issues to be unimportant, but rather that issues important to social conservatives are not critical to voters at this time. According to a post-election article in the Washington Post:

Social issues barely rated in this year's economy-centric midterm elections. More than six in 10 voters who cast ballots on Election Day cited the economic downturn as their top concern, according to exit polls. And this year was the first in more than a decade in which same-sex marriage did not appear on a statewide ballot.

It means that most Americans don't believe that preventing gays from serving in the military is as important as putting food on the table. 

It means that there are more Americans who don't value school prayer as much as having a stable and reasonably compensated job. 

It means that a strong majority of Americans value the idea of keeping most of what they earn over their concern about who marries whom. 

These and other social issues are not unimportant. They simply didn't sway the election. They certainly do not have the unreserved support of the independent voters in this country. And today, independents are the most important component of the electorate.

Social and religious conservatives, like their Progressive counterparts on the left, have deluded themselves. They have fallen into the trap of believing that achieving the social outcome they prefer trumps the need to build an electoral majority based on those issues that they embrace. They are trying to piggyback their agenda on top of the successes of the Tea Parties, thus (in their worldview) gaining the ability to legislate changes in society which they feel are necessary. In this, they are exactly like the Liberal/Progressive/Democrats. They are displaying a willingness to legislatively coerce the majority because of their belief that they, and they alone, know what's best for all of us. The social and religious conservatives fail to recognize that it was just such an attitude that was a major cause of the disaster that hit the L/P/Ds on November 2.  

Paternalism, from either the left or right, is not something that Americans will accept. Americans being told, directly or indirectly, that they are not competent to recognize what's best for them is viewed, quite accurately, as insulting. The Democrats and their media acolytes tried that approach and found out that at least 50 percent plus one of their constituents felt insulted...and responded forcefully. Should social and religious conservatives follow the same path, the result will be similar, if not identical. And if Republicans think that they will gain politically by embracing and campaigning wholeheartedly on the agendas of these religious and social conservatives and still garner a majority of independent voters, then they will find themselves a permanent minority party. 

The country is at a crisis point, and the election of 2012 -- and probably the 2014 midterms as well -- will be easily as critical as the 2010 midterms were. Roiling the electoral waters with extraneous and highly divisive issues (at least as evaluated by independents) will only insure that the Democrats regain power, Barack Obama is reelected, more L/P/D judicial appointments are made, more power is transferred unconstitutionally from the Legislative to the Executive branch of the government, and the dreams of social and religious conservatives will die a slow death.

Even worse, the dream of liberty in a free nation peopled by free people will die as well.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran, and libertarian (small "l"). Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.
In the past week, there has been a call for the Tea Parties to introduce social issues into their "platform." 

Same-sex marriage, abortion, repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the teaching of abstinence over contraception, and numerous other agenda items of importance to social and religious conservatives have been put forth as issues that the Tea Parties should embrace. Not only should these issues be embraced, but the Tea Parties have been told that they must reconfigure their existing agenda and work toward solutions that satisfy the yearnings of these very same social and religious conservatives.

Of course, these issues are of overwhelming importance to a significant number of people. I respect that these people are sincere and truly feel that the country will be hurt beyond redemption should things continue as they are. But a significant number of vocal people do not a political majority make. 

The recent midterm elections were a decisive repudiation of the direction that the Democratic Party has taken the nation in the past four years, but there has been a seismic shift in what issues the majority of Americans believe to be important. What many of these religious and social conservatives fail to understand is that not one of their issues had any real bearing on the outcome of an election that swept sixty-plus Democrats from Congress and countless others from state and local offices. To be sure, some of the Republican winners might support some issues that social conservatives feel are important, but it was not those issues that garnered the candidate votes from independents.

This doesn't mean that the average American believes these social issues to be unimportant, but rather that issues important to social conservatives are not critical to voters at this time. According to a post-election article in the Washington Post:

Social issues barely rated in this year's economy-centric midterm elections. More than six in 10 voters who cast ballots on Election Day cited the economic downturn as their top concern, according to exit polls. And this year was the first in more than a decade in which same-sex marriage did not appear on a statewide ballot.

It means that most Americans don't believe that preventing gays from serving in the military is as important as putting food on the table. 

It means that there are more Americans who don't value school prayer as much as having a stable and reasonably compensated job. 

It means that a strong majority of Americans value the idea of keeping most of what they earn over their concern about who marries whom. 

These and other social issues are not unimportant. They simply didn't sway the election. They certainly do not have the unreserved support of the independent voters in this country. And today, independents are the most important component of the electorate.

Social and religious conservatives, like their Progressive counterparts on the left, have deluded themselves. They have fallen into the trap of believing that achieving the social outcome they prefer trumps the need to build an electoral majority based on those issues that they embrace. They are trying to piggyback their agenda on top of the successes of the Tea Parties, thus (in their worldview) gaining the ability to legislate changes in society which they feel are necessary. In this, they are exactly like the Liberal/Progressive/Democrats. They are displaying a willingness to legislatively coerce the majority because of their belief that they, and they alone, know what's best for all of us. The social and religious conservatives fail to recognize that it was just such an attitude that was a major cause of the disaster that hit the L/P/Ds on November 2.  

Paternalism, from either the left or right, is not something that Americans will accept. Americans being told, directly or indirectly, that they are not competent to recognize what's best for them is viewed, quite accurately, as insulting. The Democrats and their media acolytes tried that approach and found out that at least 50 percent plus one of their constituents felt insulted...and responded forcefully. Should social and religious conservatives follow the same path, the result will be similar, if not identical. And if Republicans think that they will gain politically by embracing and campaigning wholeheartedly on the agendas of these religious and social conservatives and still garner a majority of independent voters, then they will find themselves a permanent minority party. 

The country is at a crisis point, and the election of 2012 -- and probably the 2014 midterms as well -- will be easily as critical as the 2010 midterms were. Roiling the electoral waters with extraneous and highly divisive issues (at least as evaluated by independents) will only insure that the Democrats regain power, Barack Obama is reelected, more L/P/D judicial appointments are made, more power is transferred unconstitutionally from the Legislative to the Executive branch of the government, and the dreams of social and religious conservatives will die a slow death.

Even worse, the dream of liberty in a free nation peopled by free people will die as well.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran, and libertarian (small "l"). Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com.

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