The times they are a-changing on the grassroots right. After years of drinking the neoconservatives' Kool-Aid and eating their freedom fries, Middle America seems to be realizing that blind support for the GOP got the country right in the mess it's in today—government bigger than ever, mass unemployment, unchecked immigration, and Barack Obama as president.
Tea Parties, defunding ACORN, auditing the Fed, attacking Sotomayor for her La Raza Agenda, attacking Obama for his anti-white agenda, Members of Congress screaming at the President for lying about health care and illegal immigrants, even mutterings about secession—all of this would have been unheard of with Bush and Delay in charge. But today it's commonplace on conservative talk radio and on the blogosphere.
As yet, there is a dearth of political and institutional leadership to guide this nascent movement. Needless to say, the Republican Party Establishment is promoting safe, bland candidates for office rather than new Tom Tancredos or Virgil Goodes. However, the Tea Partyers/ Town Hallers appear to be standing up to the party hacks. This is gratifying—but beneath the anti-establishment veneer of some of the Tea Partyers' Beltway allies is the same old Open Borders particle board.
The most prominent "anti-Establishment" candidate: Marco Rubio, the white Cuban former speaker of Florida House of Representatives, who is running against former Florida Governor Charlie Crist for the appalling Mel Martinez's soon-to-be vacated U.S. Senate seat.
"Anti-tax 'tea party' conservatives are struggling with the Republican Party establishment by backing insurgent candidates, political activists say.
One example is in Florida, where the anti-tax and limited government advocacy group FreedomWorks [more on them later—WW] is backing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate against the candidate preferred by GOP centrists, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
['Tea party' backers target GOP candidates, UPI, October 12, 2009]
Besides Crist's support for amnesty, conservatives are still furious over his underhanded promotion of John McCain during the Florida primary:
Naturally, the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed Crist.
On the surface, Rubio does indeed seem an improvement over Mel Martinez on immigration. His platform states:
"Legal immigration has been a great source of strength and prosperity for America, but I believe illegal immigration threatens the foundation of this system. If I had been in the Senate at the time, I would have opposed the McCain-Kennedy bill. I believe we must fix our immigration system by first securing the border, fixing the visa and entry process and opposing amnesty in any reform."
But "fixing the visa and entry process" could mean a lot of things—including massively increasing legal immigration. Remember how Bush tried to portray amnesty as "immigration reform".
And Rubio gave a disturbing hint of what this meant in a convoluted interview with the website Red County. He absurdly accused Democrats and labor unions of being against legal immigration, while Republicans (he asserted) support it.
Rubio must be either completely ignorant of the sellout of union workers by Big Labor, or he is promoting a guest worker program—the only aspect of legal immigration that labor unions oppose.
Even more ominously, Rubio blamed the Republican's "tone" on immigration for alienating Hispanic voters.
Even Rubio's record on illegal immigration is dubious. In 2008, patriotic Florida state legislators proposed over a dozen bills to crack down on illegal immigration, but as Speaker Rubio stalled them in the House:
"Florida lawmakers looking to pass bills targeted at curbing illegal immigration faced one major hurdle this session—convincing South Florida legislators, who hold key leadership positions in the House and Senate, to support their cause.
Without the backing of House Speaker Marco Rubio, the first Cuban-American to hold the position, the bills failed to get any major play in their committees. Six weeks into the session, a three-hour workshop was held on the six House bills, but even that failed to produce its desired intent of combining the bills into one larger committee bill.
'Speaker Rubio outlined the priorities of the session and this didn't fall under that list,' said Rivera, one of Rubio's lieutenants."
[Miami-Dade lawmakers stymie immigration bills, by Laura Figueroa, Miami Herald, April 17, 2008]
Finally, Rubio was the object of a fawning National Review cover story recently which even worse, was written by the unspeakable John J. Miller—a very bad sign indeed. [Rubio Rising |The Florida GOP has a new star, Sept 7, 2009(Free link)]
Rubio is not the only anti-establishment candidate in the race. Former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith, who has since moved to Florida, is also running. Unlike Rubio, he is making stopping illegal immigration a top priority. According to the Jacksonville Observer
"During a recent appearance on the Jacksonville Observer Radio Show, Smith made it clear that he was not pulling punches against Crist or Rubio. He noted that his campaign is going to include a significant focus on dealing with illegal immigration. On the issue of so-called amnesty, Smith replies: 'No, no, and hell no!'" [Rubio and Smith to Participate in Senate Candidate Forum, by Austin Cassidy, The Jacksonville Observer, October 19, 2009]
That said, Smith's record on immigration in the Senate in the 1980s and early 1990s leaves much to be desired. But it is clear that he is currently the only candidate in the race who is making stopping mass immigration a series issue.
The other "anti-Establishment" hope: Doug Hoffman, who is the Conservative Party candidate against GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava in a special election in New York' 23rd Congressional District on November 3.
Once again, conventional wisdom pits him as an anti-Establishment Tea Party candidate. For example, the Wall Street Journal:
"The rise of conservative 'tea party' activists around the country has created a dilemma for Republicans. They are breathing life into the party's quest to regain power. But they're also waging war on some candidates hand-picked by GOP leaders as the most likely to win.
"In upstate New York, Dede Scozzafava, 49 years old, is the choice of local party leaders to defend a Republican seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, an abortion-rights candidate who could appeal to independents. Doug Hoffman, 59, is a local accountant backed by tea-party activists who has jumped into the race declaring himself the real conservative." [Tea-Party Activists Complicate Republican Comeback Strategy, by Naftali Bendavid, Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2009]
New York has a fusion voting system that allows candidates to run on multiple party lines. Usually the Conservative Party simply endorses the GOP candidate, but occasionally—such as William F. Buckley's losing New York Mayoralty campaign against John Lindsay or his brother James Buckley's winning U.S. Senate campaign against Charles Goodell—they run against it.
The country-wide patriotic support of Hoffman is not the equivalent of supporting, say, the Constitution Party. But it is certainly a step forward.
Unfortunately—and probably unknown to his many grassroots supporters across the country—Hoffman takes the Bush/McCain line on immigration. According to his platform:
"There is no question that our immigration policies are flawed. The answer, though, is not to put up a wall and stop all immigration. The answer is to create an easier path for immigrants to enter the United States – and to work here – while at the same time getting tough on illegal immigrants who commit crimes."
What's going on here? The main problem is that the same old Open Borders Beltway "conservative" operations like the Club for Growth and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, both Bush lapdogs a few years ago, are now struggling to get control of the Tea Party movement.
And they're getting somewhere. The most disturbing development: the re-ascension of former Republican Whip Dick Armey. Armey's organization Freedom Works claims to have helped organize the 9-12 protest against big government and to be creating a grassroots network of 800,000 conservative activists.
Both Armey and Freedom Works have terrible records on immigration. A quick search of immigration at the Freedom Works site shows dozens of articles, panels, and press releases supporting amnesty and more immigration.
Most disgracefully, Armey attacked Tom Tancredo as the "cheerleader of jerkiness in the immigration debate" and accused Pat Buchanan of being "content to be a rock star" for "10 percent of the most militant voters in America." [Republican blasts party's guest-worker plan, McClatchy Newspapers, September 28, 2006]
Armey also promotes political correctness on racial issues. During the 2008 campaign, he provided ammunition for the left by calling white working class citizens the "Bubba vote" that would not support Obama because of his race. According to Armey, it was "deplorable, but … real," that "an awful lot of people in America…are not emotionally prepared to vote for a black man." [Armey 'Bubba vote' to hurt Obama, by Richard Wolf and Martha T. Moore, USA Today, September 3, 2008]
In an age when Joe Wilson became a hero to Middle Americans when the Left called him a racist for calling out Obama's lies on illegal immigration, it is absurd that political correct Open Borders advocates could aspire to lead the patriot movement against Obama.
With Bush and McCain discredited, and a Middle America fed up with the Obama administration, the Tea Party patriots have an unprecedented opportunity to take their country back.
But first, they need to keep their movement out of the hands of Beltway faux radicals like Norquist, Armey, and their ilk.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.