There has been quite a discussion on the web lately about whether or not Tea Party organizations should make endorsements. Here’s my take: they should. Here’s why.
It is important to understand that the Tea Party movement is just that: a movement, not a political party. Much as the left and the left-leaning media would like to paint tea parties as a political party, we’re not. We are much bigger than that: we are a movement sweeping America. The left is scared witless and well they should be.
The Tea Party movement–or the Liberty movement as I call it–is more like an interest group or a civic group. We’re like Elks or Moose, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Rotary Club, the VFW, the NRA and in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the tea party shares members with many of those organizations. Each of those civic organizations has an issue-oriented reason for being, something they stand for. They advocate for those issues.
The Tea Party movement differs only in what brings us together. We stand for American values: for life, liberty and property; for limited constitutional government, for fiscal responsibility and free market capitalism. It is the broadest possible statement of what it means to be an American.
This is a grass-roots movement. There is no leader and each organization may or may not affiliate with a state-wide, regional or national organization, such as the Tea Party Patriots. Some are formally organized as 501 (c)3 corporations, some as 501 (c)4, some not formally structured at all. Each organization is free to do pretty much what it thinks best.
Should they endorse? Some organizations exist solely for the purpose of education–the 9-12 groups are a lot like that. They and others feel that they are called to educate and that endorsement is not appropriate. To them I say: We are on the ropes. We have almost lost the fight. Education is a fine and necessary long-term purpose, but if we lose either of the next two elections there is no long term.
Others want to highlight the candidates and even provide a forum for debate, but not to endorse them. To them I say: debate is fine and necessary but the time for debate is closing and the time for action is upon us. Here’s why not endorsing doesn’t work.
In the Florida FL-19 special election in April the South Florida Tea Party favored candidate Ed Lynch but was careful not to specifically endorse him. They even went so far as to organize a phone bank but not for a specific candidate. Activist Karin Hoffman of DC Works for Us tells the result:
The Precincts that DC Works For Us was responsible for had an 84% return for the candidate. The same region only had 3 precincts go for McCain….had the [other] grassroots taken ownership of the whole District with this strategy, we would have another conservative in Congress.
As any marketing professional will tell you, it is not enough to put your product on display and hope people will flock in to buy it. You must advertise. We must commit. It is time to get off the bench, grab the bat and step up to the plate.
Support the candidates who support our values.
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