DENVER, June 14, 2012 — After fifteen years in Colorado and a bit of ribbing from friends, I decided to take the plunge and buy a pair of cowboy boots. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that I could not get rhino-skin boots.
The best I could do was ostrich leather. It seems oddly fitting.
You see, the last four years beginning in the summer of 2008 have been quite the journey of political discovery for me — and that’s saying a lot for someone with both degrees and teaching experience in political science.
Well-schooled in classical liberalism, I had always felt that America’s greatness was built on a unique foundation of individual liberty, virtue and free market capitalism. What I didn’t understand was how we, as a nation, had gotten so far off course that the vast majority of people could respond to polls saying we were on the wrong track, and at the same time move further in the wrong direction by electing someone as dangerously radical as Barack Obama to lead the country.
I don’t intend to lay out the pieces of information that led me then to that conclusion or that subsequent information coming out slowly and piecemeal only tends to reinforce it. Let me instead just say that to one who grew up studying communism and the Soviet Union, the signs were obvious.
The big surprises of the last couple of years lay not on the left, but within the Republican Party, supposedly on the side of liberty and limited government. Yet under George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism, spending took huge leaps. The electorate punished the GOP in 2006 and 2008 for not “getting it,” but at the same time punished itself by bringing on an even greater evil.
In 2009 I talked to RNC staffers who assured me that this was all just part of “the cycle” and soon it would be their turn again. They didn’t get it; many still don’t. What is there to “get”? There is a fundamental realignment of politics going on, one that happens rarely. Because of that rarity perhaps they can be excused for not recognizing it for what it is: a revolution.
Since 2009, a vast number of Americans have taken the red pill, and we don’t like what we see.
Initially, of course, we see the immediate danger: the statist, totalitarian threat from the left. While we were sleeping - and that analogy is widely, almost universally used - the American left took over the Democratic Party, transforming it into a radical left European-style labor party which eventually took over the entire government.
But what we didn’t see clearly then, and are only now beginning to see clearly now, is that much of the rot has seeped in to the Republican Party as well. The parties are not as different as we assumed they were.
Some of my libertarian friends say that in reality we have but one party with two wings: When the Democrats are in power they spend on social welfare; when it’s the Republicans’ turn they spend on defense. In both cases, the government grows and our liberties diminish. We end up living in a fascistic welfare-warfare state. The idea of one party, two wings goes all the way back to Henry Adams in the 1890s, although the perception of what the parties stand for has changed over time.
We’ve been taking the blue pill for a very long time. We didn’t take the red pill voluntarily so much as the outrageous, profligate in-your-face spending in 2009 dared us to take it.
And so the Tea Party revolution was born.
We thought we could stop the madness with the mid-term Congressional elections in 2010. It was a do-or-die election, and we largely did. We knew we would be opposed tooth and nail by the opposition, but what we didn’t count on was the opposition from what was, for the majority in the Tea Party, our own party - the GOP. Indeed, in 2010 we saw the establishment in the GOP actively oppose our senate candidates, and then blame us for not winning. That meme is alive and well in Colorado where District Attorney Ken Buck should have beaten appointed senator Michael Bennett but did not, due in large part to undervotes from otherwise Republican voters who had backed establishment candidate Jane Norton in the primary.
All of which brings us to the present. Now is finally our chance to rid the Oval Office and the entire nanny-state bureaucracy of the anti-Americans. Yet we are still being opposed by our own party, who still think this is just another cycle and their turn is coming.
My friend Michelle calls it the battle for the soul of the Republican Party. I go a bit further: I call it the battle to give the Republican Party a soul.
The bad news is that this revolution is a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. Establishment RINOs are fighting tooth and nail to hang on to their power. In fact, some don’t care very much whether they or a Democrat wins an election, so long as we don’t.
The good news is, we’re winning. Maybe I’ll be able to get those rhino-skin boots after all.
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