Rand Paul is mistaken.
It’s not often I say that, so let me explain.
Speaking on the Senate floor last month,
Kentucky’s junior senator—elected with Tea Party support in his first run for
public office in 2010—declared the
following in response to a massive two-year spending deal:
“Today is the final nail in the coffin. The Tea Party is no more. … Adoption of
this deal marks the death of the Tea Party movement in America.”
Give Paul credit for a flair for the dramatic.
He can hyperbolize with the best of them. It’s one of the things we Tea
Partiers love about him.
But to suggest that because a bunch of
politicians in Washington got together and did what politicians regularly do—that
is, conspire to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the
larger public—therefore “the Tea Party is dead,” is just silly.
Paul, of course, was not the only one to
bemoan the “death” of the Tea Party last month. CNN, National Review, and other
media outlets made the same mistake.
They all missed a fundamental piece of the Tea
Party movement’s original set of principles and aims that continue on to this
This is incredibly unfair to the millions of
Americans who have put in hundreds of millions of volunteer hours over the last
10 years, and who continue to work to restore America’s government to its constitutional
limits and founding values every day.
It is for them that I write this response.
is hardly “dead.” From getting President Barack Obama to sign the USA Freedom
Act to seeing President Donald Trump first commit to pulling out of the Iran
Nuclear Deal at one of our rallies, and then watching him fulfill that
commitment as president, our successes have laid the groundwork for much more
work to be done.
dark clouds of socialism are a direct threat to everything our supporters
believe in. Though it has failed as an ideology, it will still need to be
defeated again if more victories are to be won.
Let me back up and explain the beginning of
the modern-day Tea Party movement, our core principles, and history over the
last ten years.
We Got Started
After Rick Santelli’s rant on Feb. 19, 2009 on
CNBC—wherein he declared his intent to hold a “tea party” to protest Obama’s
trillion-dollar “stimulus” bill—conservatives excitedly began to connect on
Michael Patrick Leahy organized a conference
call with nearly two dozen people who didn’t know each other. We discussed organizing
the first round of nationwide Tea Party protests.
It’s important to note that not only were most
people who started organizing in the early days strangers to each other, but
most had no experience as political activists.
As the months went by, more and more Americans
joined the movement, more protests were held, and local Tea Party leaders
pulled together to form organizations like ours to pool information and
Losing a battle does not somehow mean you’re “dead.” That really implies that there’s no hope and we should give up.
From the very start, we held weekly conference
calls with Tea Party organizers all across the nation—a practice that still
continues. Through these calls, the nascent Tea Party website, and other online
forums, concerned Americans debated—much as our Founders did—the meaning and
direction of the Tea Party movement.
After a massive amount of discussion, debate,
and votes with thousands of participants, we agreed to the following principles
as the core values we would work to advance: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally
limited government, and free markets.
Clearly, fiscal responsibility is one of our
guiding principles, and as such, it is something we have fought for over the
last 10 years. We have been involved in many of the major budget and spending
fights of the last decade, and we have had wins and losses in those fights—including
the fight over the current budget-busting bill just signed by the president.
But losing a battle does not somehow mean
you’re “dead.” That really implies that there’s no hope and we should give up.
I’ve got news for Sen. Paul and anyone else
who thinks the Tea Party movement is dead: That’s just not how anyone in the Tea
Party movement thinks.
When millions of us first got involved in the Tea
Party movement, we had many expectations that proved to go unmet and held many assumptions
that we learned were wrong.
Let me put it bluntly: We were naïve. We
believed the Republican Party would be a true opposition party and that Republican
leaders meant what they said when they pledged to cut spending, repeal
Obamacare, and build the wall (remember Sen. John McCain’s
When we started getting antsy about results
after we helped deliver the historic 2010 win in the House of Representatives,
and the seven-seat gain in the Senate (not to mention the massive number of
state–level wins), we were told to be patient. After all, Republicans only held
one-half of one-third of the federal government.
When, in 2014, we helped the GOP recapture the
Senate, we were told again to be patient about the lack of results because we still
didn’t control the White House.
But then, when, against all odds, we helped
Trump win the White House while holding the Senate and the House, congressional
Republicans didn’t even bother to try to send a fiscally responsible bill to
And who was it that single-handedly killed the
repeal of Obamacare? None other than McCain.
I’m still angry about that and every other broken promise from the
Republicans, who vow every election to do what their voters want and then fail
to follow through.
Eventually, the grassroots began to realize
that everything we thought we knew was actually wrong.
Sometimes, it feels like we’re fighting the mythological Greek hydra: We cut off one head, only to find that two have grown in its place.
I remember being in Washington, D.C., one time
in 2009 and thinking that the problems our country faced were confined within
the buildings that make up the Senate, the House, and the White House—in other
words, our elected leadership.
Years later, I came to understand that the
problems may have started there, but have expanded outward, and now encompass
the entirety of the federal bureaucracy: the departments, agencies, offices,
and bureaus occupied and staffed by faceless, unelected, and (most importantly)
unaccountable bureaucrats whose attitude when encountering a superior with whom
they disagree is, “I’ll be here after you’re long gone, buddy.”
Sometimes, it feels like we’re fighting the
mythological Greek hydra: We cut off one head, only to find that two have grown
in its place.
It’s upsetting. It truly is, and that is why I
don’t begrudge Paul for lashing out, because I and millions of other Americans
feel the same frustration and anger with the out-of-control spending.
Overspending and the ever-increasing debt have
created a crisis that threatens America’s future prosperity and security, and
we will continue to fight for spending cuts and reduced debt every chance we
But we are also committed to other issues that
threaten the very foundation of our constitutional republic. On these issues,
we’ve had real success.
One example is the existential crisis of a
radically out-of-control judiciary.
The judiciary has stolen authority and power
from the legislative and executive branches that the Constitution never gave to
the courts, and we are reaping the consequences of this at an ever-increasing
Judges now rewrite statutes from the bench,
use international law to make decisions, pervert and exploit the 14th
Amendment, and have basically declared the Constitution unconstitutional. We
have societal transformation without representation as a result of judicial
Now, leading Democrats are pushing court-packing
schemes reminiscent of FDR. They are demanding that the next Democrat president
create new positions throughout the federal court system and on the Supreme
Court that would be filled with supporters of their leftwing agenda.
Not surprisingly, these are issues which
greatly concern us.
Another example is the seemingly limitless
waves of mass migration—mostly illegal—from third-world countries with people
who do not share American values or views on limited government, and who have
little to no loyalty to America.
Fundamental changes to our society are now happening
and have been happening because we have de facto open borders—in large part due
to activist judges. It’s all an ugly circle of rot.
So, beginning in 2013, we
worked hard to block the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill, and
we’ve been working on border security and immigration reform ever since.
In 2014, Tea Party
Patriots produced “The Border States
of America,” an hour-long documentary
about the crisis on our southern border. Perhaps Paul hasn’t seen the film, but
more than a million of his fellow citizens have.
We continue to stand for a secure border, and we are proud
to have helped elect and now work with a president who catapulted border
security to the top of his agenda.
For 10 years now, Tea Party Patriots and its affiliated Super PAC and foundation have worked to organize, educate, and mobilize our fellow grassroots activists in support of constitutionally limited government.
In 2015, when the
Patriot Act was being reauthorized, we worked with the ACLU and the NAACP to
support elements of the USA FREEDOM Act, which enhanced U.S. security against
terror threats even as it enhanced privacy.
Later that year,
when opponents of Obama’s terrible Iran nuclear deal were disorganized, it was
left to us to organize the opposition rally on the west face of the U.S. Capitol.
So we did. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Donald Trump—both of whom were running
for the GOP nomination for president—spoke at that landmark rally.
In the fall of
2017, we led the effort to put together a nationwide coalition of individuals,
organizations, and small businesses to support the first successful tax reform
in more than three decades.
To help educate
our fellow citizens, we produced and aired a television ad featuring Dr. Arthur Laffer
explaining how Trump’s proposed tax reform plan was similar to the successful
Reagan tax reform that Laffer helped author more than three decades ago.
we’ve produced another hour-long documentary called “Invalidated: The Shredding of the U.S.
Patent System.” Available on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video, the documentary
recently won the award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2019 Anthem Film
Festival, the annual screening of the latest libertarian films and
In 2017 and 2018,
we strongly supported the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to
the Supreme Court. Our activists came to Washington, rallied, and worked with
allied groups to lobby their senators in support of those nominations.
In 2018, we helped over 500 high school student
walkouts to stand for the Second Amendment in order to counter the liberal
voices in their high schools.
And, earlier this
year, in honor of our 10th anniversary, our grassroots activists hosted “Stop Socialism Choose Freedom”
rallies in more than 400 events around the country.
For 10 years now,
Tea Party Patriots and its affiliated Super PAC and foundation have worked to
organize, educate, and mobilize our fellow grassroots activists in support of
constitutionally limited government.
We hold those weekly
conference calls with hundreds of local group leaders I mentioned before, and nearly
every week that Congress is in session we produce and air a Facebook Live
broadcast where we share important political and legislative news with our
activists and answer their questions about the topics of the day.
We publish op-eds
and guest columns on a weekly basis, and I long ago lost count of the number of
TV and radio appearances I’ve done to comment on the issues of the day.
Our issues are many: Tax reform. Intellectual property rights. Health care freedom. Border security and immigration reform. Fourth
Amendment protections for privacy rights. First Amendment protections for speech, press, and religion. The Second Amendment. Term limits. An end to Common Core. The Iran nuclear deal. The threat from China. Judicial nominations.
That’s a wide
variety of issues—far broader than what Sen. Paul and others may be aware of that
the Tea Party is concerned with. What do they all have in common? They’re all
manifestations of our determination to support a constitutionally limited
We’re a Both/And Organization
I’ll explain it thusly: We have always fought,
and will always fight, for spending cuts and debt reduction, for fiscal
responsibility—note, here I am going to embrace the healing power of “and”—and, we have also ratcheted up the fight
to protect and defend our Constitution, the foundation of our republic.
There are more fires burning than we realized when we jumped into the ring 10 years ago, but far from giving up or dying out, we’ve actually taken up additional issues that will make it easier to achieve other goals like fiscal responsibility. (For instance there’s no way to cut spending if we have open borders and “free” health care for illegal immigrants—or for everyone, for that matter).
Think of America as a house that has some
serious issues. There is some drywall that must be replaced, some beams are rotting,
and it needs a new roof. We have to address these serious problems as soon as
we can, but at the same time, we must fix the foundation to keep the house from
Our Constitution is our foundation, our
bedrock, and right now in 2019, it is being severely neglected. Unless we
change that, the America set forth by the Framers will be gone, and
overspending will be the least of our worries.
Never, Never Give Up
Over the years, we’ve heard stories from
volunteer activists about pouring money and unimaginable amounts of time into
their groups. People lost relationships with friends and even family. It’s not
something that any of us take lightly.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve never once
heard an activist suggest we give up, or that we must be “dead” because we lost
I honestly can’t comprehend this line of thought
because when Sen. Paul or others claim that the Tea Party is dead because we’ve
lost some legislative battles, the logical conclusion to that thought is defeat
I’ve never once heard an activist suggest we give up, or that we must be “dead” because we lost a fight.
But, what about our Founding Fathers and the
Revolutionary War? What about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War? What about our
brave boys in the two World Wars? What if Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt
had thought, “Well, we’ve been beat up a bit by some losses. I guess that means
our effort is dead and we should give up as a result.”
That would have been ridiculous, right?
Furthermore, I would like someone to show me a
list of political movements that get 100% of what they want at all times,
forever. I find it interesting that literally since the beginning of the Tea
Party movement, we have been proclaimed “dead” by various allies and opponents
What other movement or organization in
American politics is pronounced dead after a few losses, even as they also win victories?
Did anyone declare it was the end of
MoveOn.org when Trump was elected in November 2016? Did anyone say the AFL-CIO
was done for when Trump upset Hillary Clinton? And what about Planned
Parenthood, or AFSCME, or NextGenAmerica, or the Human Rights Campaign Fund, or
a hundred other liberal organizations I could name, each and every one of which
was stunned and disappointed when Hillary Clinton lost to Trump? Was it “the
end” for them?
What is the national obsession with playing
the role of the emergency room doctor calling the time of death in some
hospital melodrama on TV as it pertains only to the Tea Party movement?
The left has wanted socialized medicine in
this country for decades, and every time they lost a big fight (think Hillarycare
in the 90s), they didn’t lament their own demise and give up. They regrouped
and came back again, and again, and again—and they’re still chipping away at
Losing some battles doesn’t mean it’s over
unless you believe it’s over, and we don’t think it’s even close to over. Not
to mention that so many left-wing organizations receive millions in taxpayer
dollars, which they can then use to elect members of Congress to ensure their
continued receipt of millions in taxpayer dollars.
Are we to be held to some standard that no other political movements are held?
We might be a little scrappy compared to, say,
Planned Parenthood ($500 million per year from taxpayers), but David was a
little scrappy, too, and look how that turned out for Goliath.
The long march of progressivism through our
institutions started 100 years before the Tea Party movement was born, and we
understand that it’s not going to turn around overnight. Are we to be held to
some standard that no other political movements are held?
Here’s the thing: We are willing to put in the
years that it will take to fix the foundation and fix the walls and the roof,
so why not let us? Why not support us in that effort, instead of recklessly
deeming one of your greatest allies to be flatlined?
The patriotic Americans who make up the Tea
Party movement love this country. We also love the Constitution, and we are law-abiding
people. We choose to work within the system that our Founders left us to effect
change, even though it takes longer than a revolution.
We are very much the anti-Antifa. We don’t
take over the streets of cities, impose lawlessness and mob rule, or crack the
heads of people who disagree with us. We do it the right way, which takes
longer. We accept this reality because these are the rules of life and
And we have seen some big wins.
Here to Stay
Reasonable people can debate whether the Tea
Party should only have worked on fiscal responsibility for the last 10 years,
even though it wasn’t the only principle to which we had committed ourselves.
We still have debates in our weekly calls,
where activists discuss the direction they want us go for the upcoming weeks or
months—and we make tough decisions together, as a movement.
However, I ask that others reconsider their terminology
and pronouncements of our demise. There are still millions of Americans who
squeeze out whatever time they can from their packed schedules of full-time
work, full-time families, businesses they run, grandkids they babysit, and
more, in order to volunteer for the Tea Party movement.
It can be demoralizing to see allies
proclaiming your work is dead and meaningless, instead of acknowledging losses
and moving on, living to fight another day.
And whether you continue to falsely claim the Tea
Party movement is dead or not, we are not going away. Like Winston Churchill,
we will “never, never, never give up.”
It can be demoralizing to see allies proclaiming your work is dead and meaningless, instead of acknowledging losses and moving on, living to fight another day.
Over the coming weeks, months, and years, we
will continue to stand for personal freedom, economic freedom, and a debt-free
We will work to ensure our elections are fair
and the results are respected. We will work to register people to vote, to
volunteer as poll workers, and to work as Election Day poll workers. Once we
have the results, we will respect them, just as we expect the same of our
Should the left continue down the path toward
impeachment when there has been no recommended indictment against the president,
we will stand for our nation’s president against impeachment.
We will work to stop the rise of the socialist
tide in America, and we will urge our fellow Americans to choose freedom and
free markets. We will continue to stand for free speech, the right to bear
arms, property rights, and the other rights listed in the Constitution.
We will continue to work toward a debt-free
future, including building an electoral mandate to rein in “mandatory” spending
and stop government overspending.
We will continue to fight to restore health
care freedom and produce quality health care at competitive prices.
As long as there is liberty in America, there will be a Tea Party movement.
We will work to have more constitutional
originalists confirmed to the federal bench, which means electing presidents
and senators who will nominate and confirm originalists. We will also work to
pass legislation to reform the judiciary and restore the balance of power
between the three branches.
We will work to ensure members of Congress
live under the same
rules they pass for everyone else, to amend the
Constitution for term limits and a balanced budget, and to secure the border.
As long as there is liberty in America, there will be a Tea Party movement—the liberty movement, if you will—in America. Sam Adams started it in Boston in December 1773. Our Founding Fathers passed it on to the next generation. The torch of liberty continued passing from one generation to the next.
This generation’s Tea Party movement intends to pass the torch of liberty to our children and grandchildren so they, too, can be free to pursue their American Dream.
Source material can be found at this site.