Author Topic: 2013 Year in Review: Tea Party Beats Washington  (Read 146 times)

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Offline happyg

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2013 Year in Review: Tea Party Beats Washington
« on: December 29, 2013, 10:18:17 PM »
Matthew Boyle

The past year has by far been the best for the Tea Party movement in its short history. In 2013, the five-year old conservative grassroots upsurge has grabbed Washington, D.C. by the collar, tearing the city colloquially known as “Boomtown” in a conservative direction for the first time in decades. As the Tea Party movement matures, it is getting more professional in its political activism.

The way the Tea Party won 2013 is by entrenching itself in Washington warfare and fighting for conservative victories by connecting powerful grassroots activists directly with lawmakers in decision-making positions. What has happened is the movement has matured, and learned how to manipulate the ways of Washington to promote conservative policies while defeating liberal ones.

In the short months after President Barack Obama’s re-election, a core group of conservative House Republicans--many of whom were elected in 2010 or 2012--developed a plan to attempt to unseat House Speaker John Boehner on the House floor. While the early January vote was ultimately unsuccessful, the 12 House conservatives willing to stand up to Speaker Boehner scared him as he began the 113th Congress. That 12 of his own members were willing to vote against the Speaker was unprecedented in modern times, and given that only 17 votes were needed to actually remove Boehner, it put the veteran Ohio Republican leader on notice that any caving in 2013 would have drastic consequences for his future as Speaker. The narrative had been set: The Tea Party runs the House, and by extension, Congress.

Meanwhile, a little more than a month after Obama won re-election, Adam Lanza opened fire to kill 20 children and six staff members at Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school. Obama, emboldened coming off re-election, deputized Vice President Joe Biden to seize the opportunity to lead a push for gun control in 2013. Conventional wisdom in D.C. would have had most Americans believe that gun control was going to happen.

The left’s plan was to pass legislation out of the Senate, garnering some GOP support, then force Boehner to cave and push some kind of gun control measure through the House.

But the president’s allies in Congress did not count on three conservative U.S. Senators--two of whom were elected in the Tea Party’s 2010 electoral surge and one of whom was elected in 2012 --to stamp out their prospects of limiting Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) emerged to defeat gun control in the Senate.

How did they do it? They harnessed the power of the grassroots, energizing ordinary Americans while connecting the grassroots with their efforts in the Senate. Paul, Lee, and Cruz wrote to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in early March 2013 to inform him of their intent to filibuster any effort to limit Americans’ rights as established by the Second Amendment.

Then, they rallied Americans against the efforts of the political elite using petitions and social media. While NBC News, New York Times, and CNN reporters inside the beltway wooed politicians in Washington into believing Americans supported restrictions to the Second Amendment, Paul, Lee, and Cruz systematically shut down the phony appearance of support for gun control and utilized Senate procedures available to the minority to kill any chances of a vote that would limit Second Amendment protections for Americans.

Grassroots leaders grew emboldened. Dustin Stockton of Western Representation PAC (formerly of, for instance, hatched a plan to hold about 100 rallies in cities across America, and thousands of Americans lined up to come out to show their support for the Second Amendment. Stockton’s “Day of Resistance” rallies fired up the conservative grassroots against more than just gun control: they focused in on the Obama administration’s failure to tell the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, their refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation into the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, and the failure of Obamacare.

By early spring, Republicans like Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) were ready to cave on gun legislation for months. Toomey even co-wrote a watered down gun control bill with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would have pushed for more stringent background checks--something that, if passed by Congress, would have been seen politically as a victory for the president. But, with the public firmly against any gun control measures and a cadre of three Tea Party leaders in the U.S. Senate willing to put it all on the line to defend Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, momentum for new gun control legislation fizzled.

In late December 2013, more than a full year after the Sandy Hook tragedy that Democrats attempted to seize to push gun control, National Public Radio’s Ailsa Chang reported that “2013 was a disheartening year” for gun control lobbyists. Chang’s report detailed how gun control groups now admit defeat and acknowledge that defeat came at the hands of the powerful grassroots across America.

Earlier in December, as Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins reported, Biden and the White House signaled they will lay off gun control and focus instead on mental health issues.

Defeating gun control was hardly the only time the Tea Party movement has grappled with, and beaten, the Obama administration in 2013. Amid the beginning of the 2013 gun control fight, Sen. Rand Paul launched another Tea Party-driven offensive, this time against the Obama administration’s use of drones. Paul took to the U.S. Senate floor for an epic 13-hour filibuster that forced the Obama administration, particularly Attorney General Eric Holder, to admit in writing that it did not have the authority to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil with a drone.

Paul’s filibuster brought Tea Party-minded Senators like Cruz, Lee, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the floor to back him up; after it became clear his bold move would spark a victory for conservatism and libertarianism in America against the Obama administration, GOP leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined him on the floor. As such, Paul’s filibuster also meant something bigger than just another defeat of the Obama administration by the Tea Party movement: the GOP establishment was forced to rally around the Tea Party, rather than around leftists and Democrats.

Shortly thereafter, the biggest fight of 2013 commenced over immigration reform. Rubio had joined Democrats like Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) to draft a bill that would drastically increase legal immigration numbers to America and grant amnesty to America’s at least 11 million illegal aliens. Despite claims to the contrary, the “Gang of Eight” bill would not secure the border and would not result in an increased ability for America’s law enforcement officers to enforce immigration law.

Obama backed the bill and even sent White House staff over to U.S. Senate office buildings to help write it. Comprehensive immigration reform would have been seen politically as Obama’s big second term agenda item if it were to pass into law. It would be equivalent in scale and importance to Obama’s legacy and agenda as Obamacare has been.

Billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, and Paul Singer financed a campaign to push for the bill’s success. Big business allies like the Chamber of Commerce teamed with big labor interests like the AFL-CIO to attempt to force it through to final passage.

The bill was introduced in April 2013 to much fanfare in the media and cheers from the political class in Washington. Conventional beltway wisdom would have had most Americans believe the bill was supposed to pass the U.S. Senate much faster than it did, which it ultimately did in late June but only after conservatives debunked much of the talking points put forward by the Gang of Eight members.

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