December 10, 2009
Why Leaderless Tea Parties Are Beating the GOPBy Richard Viguerie
Rasmussen reports that the Tea Party Movement, which percolated only months ago, is beating the Grand Old Party.
That's amazing -- a nascent grassroots movement is more popular than a long-established political party -- and it's good news.
Republican Party leaders should be embarrassed. Instead, the Republican establishment disdains this populist uprising. Rather than embracing this genuine movement, establishment politicians and consultants are calculating how to co-opt, sideline, or even defeat the newest phenomenon in politics: tea partiers.
That would be arrogance, not leadership. It could be the downfall of Republican leaders, who have taken the Party of Reagan to the Party of No -- meaning No Ideas, No Leadership, and No Principles.
What's driving the Tea Party phenomenon? Robert Stacy McCain writes at American Spectator about one tea partier, Rhonda Lee Welsch, who says, "'It's a systemic problem,' discussing the top-down approach of leaders in both parties who seem indifferent to the concerns of ordinary Americans."
People realize that big-government career politicians aren't going to save America (if it's not too late for that already). Like a modern-day court of Louis XVI, our leaders are disconnected from the people. An uprising is taking place, yet our political leaders seem more interested in playing a good round of golf.
As I wrote not long ago:
The Tea Party Movement, however, is about more than electing new politicians, although that will be one of its consequences. What's happening in the tea parties is that people are actually using the Constitution to ground and form policy choices, and as a constructive means to hold the political establishment accountable.
Our constitutional system of checks and balances is currently in shambles. Congress refuses to hold the president accountable constitutionally, and the courts refuse to hold the other two branches accountable.
This is why the 10th Amendment is becoming so popular within the Tea Party Movement, and why that Amendment is becoming the bane of statists in the political establishment. The 10th Amendment, intended as a fundamental, "systemic" protection of our constitutional form of government, says that all powers not given expressly to the federal government by the text of the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people. It is a fail-safe against tyranny.
The 10th Amendment, which has been collecting dust in the closet, is a natural resource for the "leaderless" Tea Party Movement. The way to restrain the abuses of power and create a culture of freedom and economic prosperity lies within the Constitution itself. Tea partiers will use the Constitution, which has been so disregarded by the three branches of government, to tame the beast of tyrannical big government. The 10th Amendment is one key to overcoming what Ms. Welsch articulates for all of us as a "systemic problem."
One of the best books I've read in recent years is The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom.
Read it, and you'll better understand why the Tea Party Movement is surging while the Republican Party isn't. The book describes the success of leaderless organizations using the analogy of a spider, which is killed when its head is cut off, versus the starfish, which, when a tentacle is cut off, grows a new one.
The great Aztec civilization existed for centuries before the Spaniards arrived on the continent. Cortés told the Aztec leader, Montezuma, give me your gold or your life. Montezuma gave Cortés his gold, and Cortés killed him anyway. The Aztec civilization did not survive the loss of its leader. The head of the spider had been cut off.
The Apaches, on the other hand -- a leaderless "starfish" society -- survived hundreds of years of the Spaniards' trying to do what they did to the Aztecs. As Brafman and Beckstrom write:
We are seeing the "starfish" Tea Party Movement, with candidates running in both Democratic and Republican primaries. When they are shut out by the party establishments, as happened in New York's 23rd congressional district, they are running as independents or under third parties.
"Starfish" tea partiers are learning how to organize, raise money, and utilize the alternative media in record numbers. They are voicing their opposition to unaccountable Big Government and promoting productive policy alternatives through the Founders' guiding principles.
From the tea parties, the grassroots, and the alternative media, we are seeing new leaders emerge. Like our Founders, they understand that their strength of leadership does not come from a political party, but from consent of the governed. That is why they don't hitch their wagons to one person or one party.
Talk radio host Mark "The Great One" Levin discussed recently how Reagan spoke not of "his" administration, but of "this" administration. Levin noted how Reagan understood his power came from the people, not from the office he held. Reagan didn't read The Starfish and the Spider, but he understood the principles outlined therein. The successors to Reagan's GOP do not understand those principles, and they seem more beholden to staying in Washington than saving America. They are "spiders."
The Tea Party Movement is determined to save America. Republican Party leaders would be unwise to try to co-opt, sideline, or defeat it. Perhaps they should welcome the new leadership into the party as their single most promising survival tactic.