Hooray For Utah; Boo For Indiana
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The Tea Party in Utah flexed its muscle over the weekend and booted longtime establishment Republican senator, Bob Bennett, from office. Hooray! (Now, Arizona, please do America a favor and show John McCain the door!) Unfortunately, Tea Party activists were unsuccessful in Indiana, as longtime establishment Republican, Dan Coats, defeated the principled patriot, John Hostettler. Boo!

Predictably, mainstream Republican spokesmen are lamenting Bennett's ouster, saying Bennett was a true conservative, touting an 80% ranking in the American Conservative Union (ACU) index. However, the ACU index is completely irrelevant to the true measure of a congressman's fidelity to constitutional government. The index that people should pay attention to is the Freedom Index (formerly called the Conservative Index) at The New American magazine. This index is far and away more accurate in determining a congressman or senator's fidelity to limited government. In this index, [PDF] Bennett's latest rating was a pathetic 50.

Bennett needed to go; the good people of Utah did America a great favor by showing him the door. I trust and pray that this is an indication of how the November elections will fare. I would have been extremely optimistic that this might be the case, except for the miserable election results recorded in Indiana. Dan Coats is merely another establishment neocon in the similitude of Bob Bennett.

In the 105th Congress, Coats' final rating was a dismal 55 in The New American's index. On the other hand, John Hostettler's last ranking stood at 85. Hostettler deserved the enthusiastic support of Tea Partiers throughout Indiana. It is tragic that he lost to someone such as the neocon, Dan Coats. Therefore, what was gained in Utah was lost in Indiana.

And this is going to be the danger for the Tea Party movement this year: If Tea Party activists do not truly understand the issues of limited government, or if they are fooled by establishment politicians, or if they fail to materialize at the polls on election day, all that will happen is one Big Government neocon will be replaced with another Big Government neocon. And, as Sonny and Cher used to sing, "The Beat Goes On."

Proponents of limited government already had a setback in Texas when establishment neocon Rick Perry defeated Debra Medina. Obviously, Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin campaigned hard for Perry, and another Tea Party "leader," Glenn Beck, did a hatchet job on Medina on his TV show, characterizing her has a "Truther" (with the associated vitriolic condemnation that such a person must be awful). Now, Texas is stuck with the same old same old establishment neocon.

This is why I again warn Tea Partiers to be very cautious of Palin and Beck. They promote limited government on one hand and then turn around and promote Big Government candidates on the other hand. If Tea Partiers do not grow a large head of discernment quickly, Washington insiders will quickly neuter both their voices and their votes.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the Tea Party movement is Newt Gingrich. Be alert, Tea Partiers: Gingrich is not a friend to limited government. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He proved that in 1995 when he (almost single-handedly) destroyed the Conservative Revolution of 1994. He will do the same to the Tea Party movement in 2010, if he is given the opportunity. Avoid him like the plague!

There are scores (probably hundreds) of great constitutionalist candidates running for State and federal offices this year. It is critical that Tea Partiers learn who they are and turn out in force to support them in the various primary elections. If we wait until the general elections in November, most of the good candidates will already have been defeated, and we will be left with the same old choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. That was a big problem in Indiana: voter turnout was anemic.

Believe me, Big Government pariahs are watching the elections of 2010 intently. By electing solid constitutionalists en masse (at both the State and federal levels) this year, Tea Partiers could literally ignite a modern revolution–a revolution of freedom and constitutional government rivaling the Tea Party of 1773–that could continue right on through the 2012 elections.

On the other hand, if establishment types such as Gingrich, Coats, Perry, McCain, etc., are allowed to beguile Tea Partiers, the revolution for limited government will be dead by midnight on November 2. Furthermore, it is extremely important that Tea Partiers not be conned by the major media into neglecting their State elections. Electing principled constitutionalists to State office is probably more important than who we elect to federal office. State sovereignty and freedom issues are mushrooming all over America, and truly our liberties will ultimately be won or lost at the State level.

The elections in Utah and Indiana send mixed signals. While Utah heralds great hope, Indiana portends more Big Government–all the Tea Party hype notwithstanding. Which Tea Party will show up next time? It's anyone's guess. All I know is, the stakes could not be higher. Whichever way the elections go in 2010 will probably determine the rise or fall of freedom in America.

I pray the Tea Party of 2010 is worthy of the Tea Party of 1773.

Dr. Chuck Baldwin is the pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He hosts a weekly radio show. His website is here.

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