Obama could now take back the tea party
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 12/09/10
One of the more interesting aspects of the current moment is President Obama’s suggestion that the editorial pages of the New York Times do not speak for liberal America or mainstream America. That is to say, they are marginal. As he moves to the center now it is possible for him to imagine reelection. For advice on how to do this he might look to the Tea Party. Because before it was cool, that which became the Tea Party lived on the left and in small libertarian journals.
Tea Party was “discovered” by Glenn Back and Fox news much as the Indians were “discovered” by Columbus. In fact we, like Quanto, were already here. The invasion of Iraq became a catalyst for articles like “A states right defense against Dick Cheney” and “A New Age of Jefferson” which I wrote for small libertarian journals before the world first heard of Barack Obama. Elementary to this position was Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1797, as elegant as a marriage contract: If there is infidelity on the part of one, then the marriage is dissolved.
These ideas and those of better writers have now fully found their way into the mainstream, which is good. America, right and left, has found the effective antidote to federalist malfeasance: states’ rights. It is a door that will not be closed. We are a nation of states and regions. It is our birthright. I wrote a lot about his then and the two champions I wrote about were Mark Warner, then the governor of Virginia, and Jim Webb, who is now Senator of Virginia. My guides were Jefferson and Andrew Jackson and Warner was Jefferson and Webb was Jackson. Sarah Palin has since stolen the Jacksonian fire, but there is no reason why the Obama Democrats couldn’t take it back. It belongs to Jackson. It belongs to Jefferson.
The Democrats went astray by listening to the editorial voice of the New York Times. As Steve Jardin and Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, advisors to Warner and Webb, wrote in their excellent book, “Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run ‘em Out” if liberalism ignores the South and the red states, it will destroy the Democratic Party. The rise of red state Tea Party suggests it could destroy the country. Instead, the Democrats chose the dangerous path of “Whistling past Dixie”; the path of the marginalia at the New York Times.
My most important impression of Barack Obama came during his campaign at a high school in Littleton, NH, when I pulled my kids out of school to hear him talk. Most revealing was a story he told about a long ride into the country on a campaign tour in Greenville, SC, I think it was. When he finished his talk, he heard an elderly black woman in the crowd say, “Fired up.” Then the crowd began to chant “Fired up.” For the first time he found himself in the very country heart of America, where rural, black women spontaneously sing to express their fidelity and devotion. It was a kind of touchstone moment which could easily have sent urbane New York editorialists scurrying back to Elaine’s. But Obama was clearly enchanted by it. It was Obama’s American moment. He had passed the test.