The Tea Party Patriots, one of the the largest Tea Party umbrella organizations, with over 1,000 local chapters, hosted a press conference this morning to offer its reactions to last night’s elections and its vision going forward.
Co-founder Mark Meckler tried to pre-empt expectations among the faithful that Washington would shrink and the federal deficit would close overnight, instead alluding to a “forty-year plan” that the group was busy working out with its members. The plan, according to Meckler, was a highway with four lanes, only one of which was explicitly political. The other three were educational, judicial and cultural.
“All civilizations and empires have fallen because their cultures became decadent,” Meckler said. “We need to lift up conservative culture, family values and wholesome things by supporting conservative musicians, writers, artists and producers.”
As far as immediate steps, however, the group’s other co-founder, Jenny Beth Martin, announced that the Patriots would be hosting a freshman orientation, to which they were inviting incoming legislators of both parties. “If they uphold our values, we’ll give them the political backing to stand up to insiders in Washington,” Martin said. “If they don’t pay attention to that pressure, we’ll be back in two years to do it all over again and get people who will do it right.”
Martin’s comments illustrate the intense pressure that freshman GOP legislators, and really all Republican House legislators for that matter, will face upon taking office. With Democrats still in control of the Senate and the White House, they’ll have to compromise in order to see any part of their agenda enacted, but in doing so they’ll risk facing the wrath of the groups that put them in office.
Meckler underscored the complicated Tea Party attitude toward compromise when he reminded GOP House Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) that the “American people are not in a flexible mood,” but told President Obama that the group is “happy to work with [him]” to the extent that he supports the values of “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.”
One might reasonably argue that the president is already a supporter of all three concepts, but the Tea Party Patriots certainly aren’t intending to imply as much. Instead, the group is essentially willing to work with Obama to the extent that he is willing to enact exactly the agenda — repealing federal health care reform, cutting taxes — that the group demands. It’s a strange vision of how politics works, but it makes sense if you are convinced that your vision represents the dead center of American politics.
“Americans know that the center of American politics is with fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets,” Martin concluded, “and we encourage all parties to move to the center.”