Matt Kibbe

WSJ: A Tea Party Manifesto

The movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party. It is aiming for a hostile takeover.

By DICK ARMEY AND MATT KIBBE

On Feb. 9, 2009, Mary Rakovich, a recently laid-off automotive engineer, set out for a convention center in Fort Myers, Fla. with protest signs, a cooler of water and the courage of her convictions. She felt compelled to act, having grown increasingly alarmed at the explosion of earmarks, bailouts and government spending in the waning years of the Bush administration. President Barack Obama, joined by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, was in town promoting his plan to spend a trillion dollars in borrowed money to “stimulate” the economy.

Mary didn’t know it, but she was on the front lines of a grass-roots revolution that was brewing across the nation. More than 3,000 miles away, Keli Carender, a young Seattle school teacher and a member of a local comedy improv troupe, was feeling equally frustrated. She started to organize like-minded citizens. “Our nation’s fiscal path is just not sustainable,” she said. “You can’t continue to spend money you don’t have indefinitely.”

Today the ranks of this citizen rebellion can be counted in the millions. The rebellion’s name derives from the glorious rant of CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who in February 2009 called for a new “tea party” from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. By doing so he reminded all of us that America was founded on the revolutionary principle of citizen participation, citizen activism and the primacy of the individual over the government. That’s the tea party ethos.

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.

The many branches of the tea party movement have created a virtual marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics. Best practices come from the ground up, around kitchen tables, from Facebook friends, at weekly book clubs, or on Twitter feeds. This is beautiful chaos—or, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put it, “spontaneous order.”

Decentralization, not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions of people and their personal knowledge. Let the leaders be the activists who have the best knowledge of local personalities and issues. In the real world, this is common sense. In Washington, D.C., this is considered radical.

The big-government crowd is drawn to the compulsory nature of centralized authority. They can’t imagine an undirected social order. Someone needs to be in charge—someone who knows better. Big government is audacious and conceited.

By definition, government is the means by which citizens are forced to do that which they would not do voluntarily. Like pay high taxes. Or redistribute tax dollars to bail out the broken, bloated pension systems of state government employees. Or purchase, by federal mandate, a government-defined health-insurance plan that is unaffordable, unnecessary or unwanted.

For the left, and for today’s Democratic Party, every solution to every perceived problem involves more government—top-down dictates from bureaucrats presumed to know better what you need. Tea partiers reject this nanny state philosophy of redistribution and control because it is bankrupting our country.

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.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

Tea Party Movement Celebrates Colorado Triumph

By Anna Fifield, Financial Times

America’s rambunctious “tea party patriots” were in celebration mode on Wednesday, after their man Ken Buck beat the Republican establishment candidate for the party’s Senate nomination in Colorado, handing the movement its fourth victory of the primary season.

Mr Buck, a gaffe-prone county district attorney, narrowly beat Jane Norton, the former lieutenant-governor backed by the Republican party, who had out­fundraised Mr Buck by more than $2m.

“Get a good night’s sleep, because for the next 83 days we are going to unite the Republican party,” Mr Buck told supporters on Tuesday night, referring to the time left until November’s midterm congressional elections. Reunite it under the tea party banner, that is.

“Tea party patriots” – a burgeoning movement pressing for limited government and lower taxes, with Sarah Palin as their poster girl – are having a profound impact on the face of the Republican party.

In addition to Mr Buck, they have propelled their candidates to win primaries in Utah, Kentucky and Nevada, as well as in Florida – by default when the presumptive Republican nominee pulled out.

“We’re trying to take back the parties and put responsible people in control of them,” says Stephen Sabolich, a conservative activist from Cleveland, Ohio, who this week attended a tea party boot camp organised by FreedomWorks, a conservative group promoting “grassroots” opposition to the Obama administration.

“We’re taking over the parties. We’ve been very successful with the Republican party so far, but it’s a little more difficult with the Democrats,” says Mr Sabolich, 66.

In one of the training rooms was a board with a quote by Samuel Adams, one of the founding fathers: “It does not require a majority to prevail but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in people’s minds.”

Last August, tea party activists dominated the political news agenda, organising rowdy protests round the country and taking over the “town hall” meetings that lawmakers hold in their home districts during the summer recess.

Although healthcare, a lightning rod issue, is not at the top of the agenda this year, the looming midterms mean tea parties will be a potent political force in the next three months.

The activists are drawing up scorecards in electorates, knocking on doors and setting up phone banks to spur voters to support candidates who have vowed to uphold tea party principles.

They ask candidates to sign their “Contract from America”, a tea party manifesto designed to hold politicians responsible, formulated in response to the top-down “Contract with America” written by the Republican leadership when they took over Congress in 1994.

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, is optimistic that conservatives can win the House, and perhaps the Senate, in November.

“Politically the elections will be a repeat of 1994 but it will be fundamentally different because these [tea party] folks are organised and are in all 50 states so it’s sustainable after the election,” he says.

The activists say they are aiming not just to install their preferred candidates on Republican tickets but to “shift the centre of gravity” within the party.

Continue reading the article at the Financial Times