Monday, February 21, 2011

The Tea Party needs leadership. Time for Joe Miller.

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 2/21/10

Before Wisconsin, the Tea Party was only an abstraction, now it is a real movement. Time starts here. The states suddenly realize they are free.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker marks the day. He stands fast while Organizing for America, President Obama’s residual campaign organization, runs 15 phone banks against him and fills buses of protesters to flood the state. But where will Tea Party go from here? At the recent CPAC convention they offered a trip to Alaska. They head in the right direction. Walker has even now been mentioned as a presidential contender in 2012. But The New York Times reported that during the crisis he called Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Jeb Bush in Florida to consult. Christie and Jeb Bush have been mentioned by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard as his first choice for President and Vice President in 2012. Is this where Tea Party should be going? No. It should press on to Alaska.

No question, Wisconsin is a milestone. But the new conservatives of the Tea Party are now at a fork in the road. Should they fold in with the mainstream and the conservative (Bush/Cheney) tradition? Or go alone? A year ago I would have said fold in, as Sarah Palin suggested. Now I’d say go alone. Too much has been gained. There is too much potential ahead and if they fold in with the tradition, it will be lost. Alaska’s Joe Miller is considering opening a PAC. But this might be the time to consider an independent run for the presidency in 2012.

Who will bring conservatism forward? Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson or Fred Karger of New Hampshire who says he is running for president in 2012 because “. . . the GOP needs a pro-choice, antiwar, freedom-for-all, spendthrift compromiser inspired by Nelson Rockefeller and Teddy Roosevelt.” Karger wants young gay people to see him run for president. And with Johnson calling for the legalization of marijuana and opening the Mexican border, the Republican debate season not far ahead begins to look like a leisure class affair; an American Idol line up of excentrics and middle-talent dilettantes, much like the Democrats have offered us these past decades.

But one stands apart, Joe Miller; Yale law school, West Point, combat veteran in Iraq with a whole group of kids. In this crowd of idea people he stands alone as a man of substance, fidelity and action. The Tea Party needs to continue heading west to Rick Perry in Texas and Joe Miller in Alaska, not turn back now to Vermont and Connecticut.

The Tea Party has no leader. It likes to imagine that it is multifaceted and self-organizing, but the hippie movement said that as well and it only lasted about five years. Without true leadership Tea Party will likewise be absorbed. Without leadership there is no form, no future. Tea Party should look to Joe Miller.

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