NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
February 26, 2014 4:00 AM
Why Republicans Need the Tea Party
The movement provides an answer to the Left.
By David Horowitz
Can the marriage between the Tea Party and the GOP survive?
My answer is: It better. The White House is occupied by a lifelong anti-American radical who has done more to bankrupt this nation’s economy, take us down as a military power, and destroy individual liberty than anyone would have thought possible in January 2009 when he took office. And it’s worse than that. Obama is the head of a Democratic party that has moved so far to the left over the last 46 years that it has become anti–free market, anti-individualist, anti-constitutionalist, and unready to defend America’s sovereign interests at home and abroad. We cannot afford to let such a party run our government for another four or eight years. The world cannot afford it.
So how do we hold together the conservative coalition opposing this national suicide? How do we make this marriage survive? First of all, by recognizing that the basic difference between the Tea Party and the Republican party is a matter of tactics and temperament, not policy and ideology. To understand what I mean by this, one has to go back to the flashpoint that has made the possibility of a Republican schism a topic of the day: the famous alleged government shutdown by tea-party hero Ted Cruz. I probably should acknowledge here that I am a huge fan of what the Tea Party represents, though not always what it does. I believe the emergence of the Tea Party is the most important political development in conservatism in the last 25 years, and is possibly the last best hope for our country.
The government shutdown was the alleged result of Senator Cruz’s filibuster of a continuing resolution to fund the government. In fact, the House had passed a resolution to fund the government but not Obamacare. In the Senate, however, Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped the Obamacare-funding ban from the bill. Cruz conducted a one-man filibuster to express his opposition, both to Reid and to the Republicans who voted to fund Obamacare rather than join him. And so Republicans attacked each other instead of the real culprits.
You might ask yourself this question: What would have happened if the Republican party and the Tea Party and the big PACs run by Rove and Koch had funded a $30 million campaign to put the blame on Obama and Reid, where it belonged? There was no such campaign. All the parties on our side failed to take the fight to the enemy camp. The finger-pointing that followed is just another example of the circular firing squad that we on the right are so good at and that continually sets us back.
Here’s a second important point that applies to all the frictions between tea partiers and Republican regulars. The conflict among the Right about the Obama shutdown was not about policy. It was about tactics. Every Republican in Congress is opposed to Obamacare, with no exceptions. Not a single Republican legislator voted for it. Not a single Republican legislator would support it. The issue is how best to defeat the Democrats and repeal a monstrous law — how to defeat the socialist party that now controls our government and is hell-bent on bankrupting our country, crippling our military, and destroying the culture of individualism and opportunity that has made this nation what it is.
Understanding that what divides us is tactical, not fundamental, is crucial to keeping the marriage alive. A tactical difference is no grounds for divorce.
Another important point to understand is that there is a difference between politics and policy. Republicans (and I would include conservatives and tea partiers) are good at policy; they are not so good at politics, which is the way one gets to make policy. Do we repeal Obamacare by obstructing it at every turn? Or do we repeal it by lying low until we have a majority and abolishing it at a stroke? And if we lie low, do we demoralize our troops, who see us as compromisers and appeasers, and in effect give up the chance of ever winning a majority and accomplishing our goal? These are the questions that divide us. They are legitimate questions and — excuse me for blurting this out — no one knows the answers. Politics is always a gamble. No one can be sure of what will succeed, which is why we have to respect each other and keep our coalition strong, even though we disagree.
I said we were not so good at politics. Actually we’re terrible at politics. Whenever a Republican and a Democrat square off it’s like Godzilla versus Bambi. They call us racists, sexists, homophobes, and selfish pigs, and we call them . . . liberals. Who’s going to win that argument? They spend their political dollars calling us names and shredding our reputations; we spend ours explaining why the complicated solutions we propose will work and why theirs won’t. But when you are being called a racist, an enemy of women, and a greedy SOB, who do you think is listening to your ideas about the budget? Who is going to believe you when all your motives are ulterior and degenerate?
This is the problem that not only Republicans, but also tea partiers and conservatives, have failed to address. It is why the Democratic party, which supports policies that are morally repugnant and have also failed on an epic scale, still wins elections. Medicare is bankrupt and a mess; Social Security is bankrupt and a mess; the War on Poverty is a trillion-dollar catastrophe that has created worse poverty than it was designed to cure — and yet Democrats can still win elections, and can pass the biggest socialist entitlement and redistributionist scheme ever and get away with it. Until Republicans and tea partiers start to fight fire with fire, this scenario is not going to change. Twenty-five years after the most oppressive empire in human history collapsed because socialist economics don’t work, 49 percent of American youth, according to a recent Pew poll, think socialism is a good system. That’s a political failure on our part. We won the Cold War, but we didn’t drive the stake through the Communist heart. As a result, the vampire of “social justice” has risen again.
Another way of looking at the problem is that the Republican party — like conservatives generally — is guided by a business mentality, whereas the Left’s mentality is missionary. Let me explain what I mean. Democrats, progressives, so-called liberals see themselves as social redeemers. They don’t approach social problems pragmatically, looking for ways to improve this situation or that, except as a political expedient. They approach social problems with an eye to changing the world. Hillary Clinton once told the New York Times that “we have to define what it means to be human in the 21st century.” No Republican or conservative in his right mind talks like that. On the eve of his election, Barack Obama said, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” People in their right minds don’t think like that. Unless they are progressives who believe that they are “on the side of history” and the “moral arc of the universe is bent towards justice.” That particular phrase is woven into a carpet that Obama has installed in the Oval Office.
Leftists are secular missionaries whose paradise is called “social justice.” The pursuit of social justice is why the Democratic party set out to radically transform a sixth of the American economy and regulate the health care of 300 million Americans from a website without the support of a single Republican and in the face of majority opposition from the people at large.
The Democratic party has become a dangerous party. It is driven by the missionary Left, backed by the billions of George Soros and his Shadow Party friends, and it regards politics as war conducted by other means. That is why Democrats can say — and believe — that Republicans are conducting wars against women, minorities, and the poor, while Republicans refer to them as liberals and patiently explain to them why their policies won’t work. If explaining why their policies won’t work were politically effective, they’d be out of business. Socialism doesn’t work, central planning doesn’t work. These ideas ruined whole continents. Why haven’t Democrats learned from that? It is because they are missionaries, and their politics is a religion that provides them with a meaning for their lives. They are the prophets of a social redemption, a future in which the meaning of being human has been redefined and social justice prevails.
Because their politics is inspirational, every failure along the way is regarded as a glitch. The cause is noble, and they cannot allow it to be derailed by a failure of any of its parts. After a century of corpses and ruined continents, “socialist” should be just another name for delusional. So should “progressive.” And yet these are the fantasies that drive the Democratic party today.
By contrast, a business mentality is pragmatic and its expectations modest. It is not looking to change the world we live in but to service the actual beings who inhabit it. It sets out to meet their needs within the parameters that are set by human capabilities and desires. When a businessman is delusional, when his expectations exceed the capacities of the marketplace, the market punishes him — and punishes him without mercy.
A business approach is fundamentally positive. To succeed it must meet the expectations of others. Where possible it wants to avoid conflict and the alienation of others; it is looking to maximize customers and expand markets, and therefore to make deals. A businessman would rather buy you out or merge with you than crush you. When obstacles present themselves, it is cheaper, and in the long run more productive, to compromise and find a way around them.
This is the mentality of our Washington insiders. A way of looking at the schism between the Tea Party and the Republican party is that the Tea Party, which is an upstart, is driven more by the missionary mentality, while the Republican party is more of a business establishment with a business temperament and approach. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are dealmakers, not game-changers.
The catch is that this is probably not the best mentality to hold when the opposition is a missionary party that views politics as war and that is out for your blood. In these circumstances, an equal and opposite force — a missionary force — may be required to defeat it. The grassroots understands this, which is why and how the Tea Party was born, and why a maverick like Ted Cruz was able to defeat the strongest Republican establishment in Texas — the most important Republican state — and become its senator.
The Tea Party’s mission is not parallel to that of the political Left. It is not about creating a new race of human beings or a new social order. Its mission is closer to the realism of business. Its mission is to defend something familiar and real — a Constitution that has been shredded, a culture that has been traduced, and an economy that is heading for bankruptcy. This doesn’t mean that tea partiers should be unmindful of the dangers that missionary ideas bring with them. Good principles don’t guarantee good candidates or winning politics. Some tea-party losses in the last election hurt the conservative cause and could have been avoided if the distinctions were kept in mind.
The very fact that the Tea Party is missionary, that it is organized as a cause, makes its demands and actions seem impractical and even extreme to business-as-usual Republicans. This is inevitable. In order to change things you have to take positions that seem unrealistic and may even seem extreme. It’s the nature of change, and the Tea Party is about change. And in fact it is already changing something.
What it is changing is the Republican party. Without the Tea Party there would be no Ted Cruz, no Rand Paul, no Mike Lee. If the Tea Party were not challenging the Republican establishment and causing conflict, it would have no reason for being.
Not only do I believe that Cruz’s stand on the Senate floor did not injure the chances of a Republican victory in 2014, I believe it enhanced them. Because it lit a fire in the Republican base and showed the rank and file that there are Republicans ready to fight. This is what our voters most want to see. Both McCain and Romney lost because they failed to create the passion among Republican voters that gets them to the polls. Too many Republicans — too many conservatives — sat on their hands. And why not, since both McCain and Romney assured them that Obama was “a good man.” No he isn’t. He’s a compulsive, brazen liar and a human wrecking ball blasting the structures and foundations of a great nation.
A question you’re probably asking is how the Tea Party can succeed as a caucus within the Republican party. How great are the changes it can achieve? Can Republicans like Boehner and McConnell be changed? (That is, if they are not unseated in primaries or by votes in their caucuses.) Well, if my analysis is correct, both men have a business mentality and can appreciate the realities of power. So my answer is yes. If the grassroots mobilizes and the Tea Party gains critical mass, they can be changed. That’s what politics is about.
In fact, that is precisely the way the Democratic party was changed over the last five decades: by grassroots extremists who first attacked the party and then infiltrated it. The radicals infiltrated the party during the McGovern campaign and over the ensuing years transformed it from the party of John F. Kennedy, who had politics identical to those of Ronald Reagan, into the party of Barack Obama, whose political comrades were the anti-American racist Jeremiah Wright and the anti-American terrorist Bill Ayers.
So how do we fight fire with fire? How do we go from a party that is eager to explain to Democrats why their policies won’t work but reluctant to call them out for who they are, to a party that will go toe-to-toe and hammer-and-tongs with them and defeat their politics of personal and political destruction? Another way to put this is: How do we develop a political weapon that matches and neutralizes theirs, in particular the claim that we are waging a war against women, minorities, and the poor?
Actually, it’s not that difficult if you are willing to be aggressive, if you are willing to match their rhetoric and be called extremist for doing so. Every inner city in America of size is run by Democrats and has been for 50 to 100 years. Detroit is a good example. It is 85 percent black. Fifty years ago it was per capita the richest city in America, the industrial jewel of an industrial superpower. Fifty years ago Democrats came to power in Detroit and began implementing their plans for social justice.
Fifty years of progressive policies and Democratic rule has bankrupted Detroit, and ruined it. A third of its population is on welfare. Half its population is unemployed. Its per-capita income has plummeted so far that it is now the poorest large city in America. It has been depopulated. More than half the people who lived there are gone. Everyone has fled who can. It is a giant slum of human misery and despair. And Democrats did it. Democrats are Detroit’s slumlords and the authors of the racist policies that have reduced a once great city to its present squalid state. Democrats are cynical liars and rank hypocrites when they claim to be interested in the well-being of minorities and the poor, whose necks bear the marks of their boot heels.
Fighting fire with fire means throwing the Democrats’ atrocities — their exploitation and devastation of black and brown Americans — in their faces every time they open their mouths. It means accusing them of destroying the lives of millions of poor black and Hispanic children who are trapped in the public schools that don’t educate them — schools the Democrats run as jobs programs for adults and slush funds for their political campaigns. It means taking up the cause of the victims and indicting progressives for their crimes. The one thing it does not mean is business as usual.