Old GOP Doesn’t ‘Get’ Tea Parties

-By Warner Todd Huston

Neil Cavuto of Fox News had a visit with former Vice President Dan Qualyle on Jan 13. Ostensibly the interview was about the earthquake in Haiti and the efforts that Quayle was saying needed to be made for the victims there, but Cavuto also asked the former veep about his feelings about the Tea Party movement. Quayle’s reply was revealing in that he proved that he really didn’t know how to think about the Tea Partiers. I think that Quayle is in exactly the same confused state that most of the old guard GOP is. They just don’t get it.

Cavuto asked what Quayle thought of the Tea Party movement and what it portended for the Republican Party and Quayle’s reply was that the GOP had to “co-opt” the Tea Partiers back into the GOP.

Sorry, Dan old pal, but that is wrong, wrong, wrong. The GOP had better understand that it is the Tea Partiers that have the upper hand here and the party also better understand that THEY must be the ones to become “co-opted.” It ain’t the other way ’round, Danny!


N.Cavuto: What do you think of that whole Tea Party stuff… are you worried about that, that it divides conservative votes, what?

D.Quayle: It is somewhat of a traditional American populist movement. Populism has always been part of American politics.

N.C.: But is it a potent third party?

D.Q.: Well that’s an important question. I don’t know yet. We’ll find out beginning in 2010 and probably more so in 2012. But here’s the challenge of my Party, is basically to co-opt the populist movement, the so-called Tea Party Folks whether they are Republicans or Democrats, because they are low taxes, they are for less regulations, they’re for less government interference, which are many principles of the Republican Party. To be able to get them within the Party with our basic principles rather than having them outside the Party…

N.C.: But when they target like I think they have Mr. Vice President, a dozen of so so-called vulnerable Republicans who do not march to all of these principles, what does that risk? Are you worried about it or is it healthy?

D.Q.: I’m not concerned about it right now because I think that most of them will join the Republican Party because they want to see government smaller, less involved in their lives, and they want less taxes, and they want less regulation, and they are for a strong national defense….

First of all, Mr. Veep, the Tea Party movement is in no way a “traditional” populist movement. All traditional populist movements of the past were more or less one issue movements and few were so grounded in traditional Constitutional theory as are the Tea Parties. Anti-liquor folks were just anti-liquor, silver bug folks were all about setting the monetary standard to silver, women’s suffrage were only about getting women the vote, etc. etc. Few of these populist movements had much interest in a greater array of issues once you got past their one, big issue.

But the Tea Party movement is not merely anti-bailout, or just low taxes, small government, pro-Constitutionalists, or anti-communists. They are all these things and more. It should be pointed out that all of the issues that the Tea Partiers stand for are traditional American concepts, not sudden populist issues that may or may not be grounded in Constitutional theory and American tradition like most other populist movements in the past have been.

Additionally, Quayle speaks about the Republican Party as if it has been about small government, less regulations,and the rest. But it has not. Not since Reagan has the GOP been about those things. This is why the Tea Partiers are saying that they are just as mad at the GOP as they are the Democrat Party.The Tea Party folks do not want to just meekly return to the Republican Party if it continues in the Country Club, big government vein in which it has been operating since 1989.

Quayle may not be “worried” about it now, but he should be. This all seems to me to be the sort of backwards thinking that all the old guard GOPers are blinded by. These guys just don’t get it that the Tea Party goers have the political power here. They don’t understand that their flawed Country Club Republican way of thinking has been rejected by the people. If they want to stay in power, the GOP better come to terms with the ideals and principles as espoused by the nation-wide phenomenon that is the Tea Party movement.

Now, let me here say that I’ve always had a begrudging respect for Dan Quayle. He has always exhibited, for instance, the sort of staunch support of traditional marriage that I appreciate. I also thought he withstood well the leftist assault on him when he was VP. But he is still a member of the old guard and here he reveals that he and his ilk are out of the loop when it comes to what to think about the Tea Party movement.

You can’t “co-opt” us, Mr. Quayle. You will be lucky if WE co-opt YOU!

Here is the full Cavuto segment (Tea Party talk at about seven minutes in):

And so the GOP better get this warning…

(Cross posted at BigGovernment.com)

My Other Tea Party Movement Discussions


“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, TheRealityCheck.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for RedCounty.com.

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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