By Jesse Phillips
Daniel Webster’s decision to join the race against Alan Grayson has undoubtedly angered some people. He is viewed by some people as a career, establishment politician. Many were thinking the District 8 race to unseat the nutty congressman would be a perfect opportunity to elect a less established outsider, rather than someone with more experience (for better or for worse).
This raises an interesting question about our expectations for November. Do we think we are going to elect a bunch of small-government, borderline libertarian candidates, and will we be disappointed if that doesn’t happen? Suppose more people like Daniel Webster are elected, and fewer like Patricia Sullivan. Will that be a failure on our part? Is the goal of the Tea Party to elect officials on a national scale, and effect change from the top down?
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then I think we are faced with the potential for some real disappointment. The liberals did not take the Democratic party over from the top down. They took it over very subtly and slowly from the bottom up. If conservatives are going to do the same thing for the GOP, a similar strategy must be taken, which will require patience. We’re not going to turn America around overnight.
While the Tea Party has proven to be very effective in giving reasonable people a voice in a loony system, and sent very clear messages to Washington, and to the establishment of both parties, never has an anti-establishment furor sustained itself without a thoughtful, long-term plan of action.
Here’s my point: we need to be thinking beyond November, 2010. We might not get as many of “our guys” elected as we would like. I’d hate to see unrealistic expectations dampening enthusiasm for positive, however incremental, change in direction. This has been the progressive strategy for years: be patient and take what change you can get. The rest will come later.
While we might not win every race we’d dream of winning on the national level, I do think we can effect change on the local municipal level. The Tea Party can infiltrate the local school board, city council, and Republican precinct seats. This is where change can be effected and sustained. Ultimately, we should resist the temptation to simply shoot for the big-prize, high dollar seats, to the neglect of the equally important local and state seats. If we can win locally, it will help us sustain ourselves until a more sweeping national tide can roll.
So, what are we doing to run and win locally? Do we have the patience?
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