Skip to comments.The Conversation With a Florida Tea Partier That Should Scare Every Republican
Posted on 01/31/2012 6:51:51 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Last week, Mollie raised an interesting point about what a Mitt Romney nomination means for the Republican Party. In the comments, I shared my concern concerning the lean-Republican independents who make up much of the Tea Party, and who prior to 2009 were mostly inactive in politics beyond regularly voting.
The Tea Party is a collection of people who felt compelled to transition from citizens to activists in favor of limited government and fiscal restraint. Many sacrifice time away from family, work, and life in a desperate attempt to save the nation they love, from their perspective. My concern is that the Tea Party will recoil from supporting a Republican Party that is headed by John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Mitt Romney.
I spoke with one such Tea Partier, Rebecca from Florida, over the weekend. She's a retired detective turned young stay-at-home mom, who labels herself a "generic Tea Partier." What she had to say was fascinating and illuminating, and it should concern just about every smart Republican. She was gracious enough to let me publicize her thoughts here at Ricochet.
Here's what she had to share:
"I became politically engaged after the 2008 election," Rebecca told me. "I used to only vote in Presidential elections and local elections that were of interest to me. In January of 2008 I saw Barack Obama give a speech and I was really wowed. He is quite a gifted speaker." She admits that she "liked what he was saying, but some things were just a little off."
She started listening to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck again, wanting to hear what this Obama fellow was really about. But beyond that, she didn't engage in activism - she just showed up to vote for McCain, despite what she considered his "progressivism."
"Obama got elected. Then Obamacare was rammed through. I was appalled. I couldn't believe the shady way such important legislation was passed," Rebecca said. "I have some like-minded mommy friends and I got together with them. I joined our local 9/12 Project, and As A Mom and the TEA Party of Tampa Bay."
Via email and Twitter, Rebecca started sharing information, organizing, paying more attention to what was happening. She took early retirement in 2010 to stay home with her son (Benjamin - a great name, am I right?), and gave birth to another young son (Jameson) last May.
"You see, I now have *much* more to think about in regards to the future of our country," Rebecca said, and happily so. She redoubled her efforts, achieving a level of engagement in politics she'd never had before, and as you all know, Florida's Senate race was ground zero for this movement.
"Casting my vote for Marco Rubio in the primary and then again in the general gave me this amazing feeling of accomplishment," Rebecca said. "I felt like we had done it. First, when he beat Crist for the Republican nod. When he won the seat, I felt like I had finally been able to cast a vote for someone I *believed* in, instead of just choosing the least worst one."
"2010 was a real turning point for me. I watched the midterm election results as we won the House with some good, solid conservatives and I felt so proud and accomplished. I felt like we - the TEA Party, my mommy friends, ME - we had made a difference," Rebecca said. "We were helping to put our country back on the right path, and return to the ideals of our founders."
"Then came 2011," Rebecca says, and her mood clouds. "It felt like every time I turned around, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were selling us out, hanging our Tea Party freshmen out to dry, and doing it for no apparent reason."
She's unsure why this is. "Are they idiots, or just the worst chess/poker players ever? Every time they have an opportunity to limit government, reduce taxes, etc. they blow it."
And all the while, President Obama is able to "look like he's trying, he's really trying, but the 'Republican Controlled Congress' keeps getting in the way. The debt ceiling increases. The lack of a budget. The 30-odd House passed bills that Harry Reid won't allow a vote on." Indeed, Rebecca is so infuriated with the Congress' inability to carry their message or push back, she thinks a third party might be needed.
"I almost feel as though there needs to be a new party, a truly conservative party, that really represents us. Sometimes I feel like the GOP is more interested in protecting their jobs than in promoting conservative ideals. At least, that's what Boehner and McConnell make me think," Rebecca said. "Why can't we have a party full of Rubios - candidates who believe in American exceptionalism and limited government, and do so unapologetically? Why do we have to have so many squishes?"
The Republican presidential stakes kicked in, and Rebecca engaged. Her hopes rise with Rick Perry's entrance, but then "he gets hammered for stupid things, and drops." She thought about Herman Cain, "but his lack of campaign management was disconcerting." She never really thought Bachmann would make it to Florida, and says "Erick Erickson has educated me too much to cast a vote for Rick Santorum." She considers Ron Paul's views right on a number of accounts, but thinks his foreign policy is "crazy."
"So here I am, supporting Newt Gingrich," Rebecca says. "I'm not in love with Newt, but I trust him more to stay true to conservative ideals. The guy pushed Clinton right, for goodness sake. I only trust Mitt to stay true to himself."
So, Rebecca, about Mitt: why not Romney this time?
"I don't trust him, and I don't think he can win. He is utterly unaware of how offensive his disconnect with the average American is. He drops $10K bets like it's nothing. He thinks $342,000 isn't very much to make in a year," Rebecca said. "I don't begrudge him his wealth - he worked for it and earned it and that is admirable. But I hate his lack of awareness of how super-wealthy he is. His flip-flops are legendary."
"Oh, and he invented Obamacare."
"I see a Romney nomination causing Tea Partiers like me to tune out. We are already disheartened by the congressional leadership. Romney will be the final nail in the coffin. He is completely uninspiring, and is everything we have been working so hard to defeat within the GOP," Rebecca said. "Don't even get me started on that Bain Capital picture. Ugh. There is no way he can win. And I don't want to have to defend him while he tries."
"What is the point in becoming educated on candidates and politics, arguing with my friends, taking the time away from my family - to end up with the guy McCain can't even look in the eye. Why bother?" Rebecca says. "Obviously the "establishment" has already decided it's Romney's turn, and to hell with what we want. I feel like I'm being patted on the head and told "Now go vote for Romney like a good little girl. We know what's best."... I don't even do that to my 3-year-old. It's insulting. It doesn't make me want to campaign for him."
"It honestly makes me want to skip the election, but Obama scares me too much to do that. I do think a Romney presidency will hurt the GOP brand though, and make it hard for a real conservative to have a shot," Rebecca said. "I feel like this is so similar to our 2010 Senate race. Romney is the Crist candidate, loved by many and backed by the establishment. But we have no Rubio. Crist would have been an easy win. He was a liked governor. Without Rubio, he would have easily won the seat. Just because we don't have a Rubio in this race doesn't mean we need to settle for a Crist."
Rebecca feels pressure, among more longstanding Republicans, to get on board the idea of Romney. But she says she's more likely to disengage. This is part of my overall concern: where cycles of political strife often include longtime activists bemoaning flawed nominees (as we saw in 2008 with McCain, and 1996 with Dole) and threatening to walk away, these are paid professionals who have been actively engaged in politics for decades. The Tea Party has a much shorter timeframe of engagement, which may indicate they are more likely to return to their previously disenfranchised state.
"It's like [Republicans] think because I don't eat, sleep and breathe politics, I can't make an informed decision - it must be emotional. My guy lost so I don't want your guy to win. When really I just don't think your guy is the best guy for the job," Rebecca said. "I can easily see a decreased Tea Party voter turn out if Romney is the nominee. I know political pundits may find this hard to believe, but not everyone's life revolves around elections. Are they important? Yes. Should people vote? Absolutely. But LIFE happens."
Rebecca tabulates her schedule for tomorrow, Florida's election day - a typical Tuesday for her household. She flies solo nearly all day, and she's never voted early. Husband's breakfast/lunch packed. Get her two boys up. Breakfast/lunch packed for them. Thirty minutes to Kindermusik, all morning there. Home early afternoon, already late for their naps. Errands, an abbreviated playtime. Dinner, baths, bed. Just voting, she says, is nearly impossible with two youngsters during the day lest naptimes and eating schedules be disrupted, and there's no way she can even attempt to get it done with both kids after about 5 because of the after-work crowds. But she'll still do it.
"I will be voting this Tuesday. I will make it fit into my schedule. I feel like my vote matters right now," Rebecca said. "But can you see how I might not make it a priority if I feel like either my vote doesn't matter, or if I don't feel like the candidate I'm voting for will be much different then what we have? Can you see how life may take precedence over casting an uninspired vote? I can't be alone in this thought process, and if enough people feel this way (and I think they will) it will be catastrophic for Romney and really very bad down-ticket as well."
Will the Tea Party remain engaged in a party led by Romney, Boehner, and McConnell? Rebecca thinks we are about to find out.
"I feel like the people who live politics just don't understand those of us who don't. I am a self-identified political junkie. I am enthralled this cycle with how things change so quickly, and I am trying to stay very informed. But I have to be honest, my time is limited. My family, my boys are my everything. Being informed takes time away from them," she says, whether it's engaging online, organizing activist responses, pushing back their naps to attend a rally.
"If I don't feel like I'm making a difference, where is my incentive to take that time from them?" Rebecca asks.
How Republicans answer her, and the concerns of those like her, may decide their future as a party in 2012 and beyond.
“To sum it up: if romney is the nominee, I leave the republican party.”
There will probably be a lot of people doing the same thing.
I am in a State with a late primary; so, if it goes the way it is going right now, I won’t have much of a selection. Most of the candidates will be long gone. But, I won’t vote for Romney.
I wonder who the Green Party is running this year...LOL
she’s right, of course.
“petulance” has nothing to do with it.
Why bother voting for the R’s leftmost candidate?
RINORomney, McCain, BushII, Dole, Ford—THERE’S A DIFFERENCE???
Unless I change my mind, I won’t be voting for Romney either. He’s smarky, has used Alinsky rules on Newt, and I loathe the man. I just don’t understand this mind set of Rebpulicans who think he can beat obama. Hah! To vote for Romney means I have to say yes to Romenycare and Obamacare - neither of which I approve. How can I rail against these policies, then turn around and defend Romney on this issue? I can’t. I know many who will line up to vote for the man to try and defeat obama, but, a Romney nomination or win will set the Republican party back. We have never won with moderates.
Which is exactly what they want.
We need a third party, but I think it should be a party-within-a-party. We need our own committees at every level, our own fundraising apparatus and our own recruitment of candidates.
Yep. This is what scares you. Time to unite behind Santorum so we can clearly contrast Obamacare with conservatism.
I see a Romney nomination causing Tea Partiers like me to tune out. We are already disheartened by the congressional leadership. Romney will be the final nail in the coffin.
I’ve already tuned out. Newt is no better than Mitt. I don’t understand why people think he is. All I can think of is its the catholic people who think so, purely for religious reasons.
Nobody said Florida voters had a brain.
If willard is elected pres. America just gets flushed slower.
Is it true George Romney praised Saul Alinsky’s work?
Ought to be more than a 'concern', Ben. One, two, three strikes, you're OUT.
I am a tea partier. Went to Washington twice and used my family’s vacation money to finance my trips. If Mitt is the nominee I will vote Mitt and ride him HARD for 4 yrs! I see the bigger picture and will not throw the election to Obama. He is counting on us freaking out and stomping our feet. I think we have evolved as a force that even though we don’t get our man we can still force the Rhino winner to the right.
That liberal scumbag will do what he did in Massholechusetts. Or what Christie just did in his own toilet.
You have no memory. Nixon was a moderate. Eisenhower was a moderate. Ford was a moderate. Pretty much EVERY republican president before Reagan was a moderate.
Our #1 objective is Remove Obama. I am equally as appalled by Romney’s campaign, and his complete disconnect this cycle with the conservative base, but we have to keep our eye on the ball. Four years of Obama mean disaster....likely 2-3 liberal justices, including at least one or two on our side....permanent Obamacare as it exists now....economic destruction.
I am with you...I am considering a different party the day after the election, but we as a nation cannot deal with four more years of Obama. I share many thoughts here that in the long term Romney is not good for our party and is far from the ideal candidate this year, but good lord, we can’t wait five more years to start facing our problems. By them, well over 50% will be zero liability voters and likely government dependents. We are nearing the 50% tipping point now.
We have to oust Obama, and we as a base have to do our work in these Senate and House races to weed out the insiders and get new blood in office. After the election, we have to keep the heat on and make the best of it. This is an awful situation, but not time to give up.
“Its the end of America regardless. All a vote between Romney and Obama will decide is who gets blamed.”
If Obama, then it’s Bush
If Romney, then it’s Romney
I am not a Newt fan, but he is better than Romney and he did bring in the first Republican House in 40 years and he did pass all the items through the house on the contract with America. It got major welfare reform and pushed it against the support of the establishment by sending it repeatedly to Bill Clinton until he finally relented to public pressure.
The establishment attacked him as badly as the left. They tarnished the fighter from Georgia, but he is back sticking it in their eyes.
I hope he will be able to come back and win.
I am not Catholic, nor am I anti-Mormon. Something just doesn’t feel right about Mitt.
Thank you for helping Obama have another term.
I am prepared for another 4 years with Obama. I hope you are.
Its been all downhill ever since.
After becoming dismayed and feeling betrayed by the R-Establishment over the last month of the primary, the next priority is changing. I'm not sure yet what it will be, but I can offer the following talking points to sort out (for myself):
1 - stop watching FOXNEWS, they can't be trusted any more, and stop following all the attack dogs who went after Gingrich (I won't forget or forgive on this)
2 - redouble efforts to support the Tea Party and GOOOH and push my local TP group to become more anti-Republican than they already are
3 - Vote for John Galt for Pres in the 2012 election
4 - start searching for like minded people who want to divorce themselves from any outside control by large groups, whether political, religious, government, unions, or corporations, consider forming a "Galt's Gulch Group" that has the ability to offer the needed insulation and self-sufficiency
The problem with freepers is, they havn’t yet figured out they are a small minority...and getting smaller.