Will Unrepentant Republicans Get Invited to TEA?

Washington Republicans owe liberty-loving, fiscally conservative Americans a huge public apology for their complicity in the national health care debacle because their fiscal irresponsibility undoubtedly contributed to the desperation for “change” that produced the current Congress. Republicans, if you want some of us to trust you again, then you had better admit your own wrongdoing. Otherwise, why should we not expect more of what we got the first time we trusted you in 1994?

The TEA Party movement is an interesting phenomenon, and it’s got both major political parties wondering what effect it will have in the upcoming elections. Democrats wonder if it will help Republican candidates. Some Republicans fear that TEA Party members will vote for an independent or, seeing Republicans and Democrats as merely different shades of gray, just not vote. So, as a former elected Republican, here’s some advice if Republicans want to get invited for “tea” during the next election season.

My ruminations on this issue come from what we’ve all just witnessed in Washington in connection with the Senate’s midnight and Christmas Eve votes on the national health care bill. To be blunt, it disgusted me.

Legal Bribery

Unless you’ve been in a coma, you know that a lot of “deals” were made to secure the votes needed to pass the Senate’s draft of the national health care bill. Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Nelson was just one example, but perhaps the most visible one, of what brings contempt on Congress. He agreed to vote for the bill because he got a $45 million deal that will exempt Nebraskans from paying their share of the bill’s increased cost to their state’s Medicaid program. In essence, you and I will pay for the extra $745 million the bill will cost Tennessee, but we will also pick up part of the cost that Nebraskans would have had to pay. Already his Senate colleague from Nebraska and his own governor have condemned him. Of course, that doesn’t change what he did or change the language of the bill.

And, of course, he is not alone to be blamed. As far as I’m concerned, whoever it was that offered the deal and signed off on its being offered is as guilty as Sen. Nelson of corrupt politics. Usually with bribery, both the offeree and the offeror are guilty.

Some would say it’s not corrupt politics—that is politics. In fact, Sen. Harry Reid said as much. As far as I’m concerned, apart from his substantive position on the matter, he needs to go, too, because of his attitude about the process, along with everyone else up there who shrugs and says the same thing.

Whom Does America Trust?

But I’m getting off track. The point really is about Republican legislators and the TEA Party members. An interesting national poll released at the end of last year showed that more Americans indicated a preference for a TEA Party candidate over either a Democrat or a Republican. That should particularly disturb Republican Party leadership—particularly ones like House Republican Leader John Boehner, who supported a pro-choice, pro-homosexual marriage Republican candidate for a recent special election in New York’s 23rd District.

Sen. McConnell Needs to Listen to Himself

But it was a statement made by Senate Minority (Republican) Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor the night the health care bill passed the Senate that caught my attention. He said, “I guarantee you the people who voted for this bill are going to get an earful when they finally get home for the first time since Thanksgiving. … My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”

I think he’s right—those who voted for this are going to hear about it. Of course, if they only hear about it now and not when you vote in November, then don’t complain. Just pull down your electoral britches and expect to get paddled again with more of the same.

But what really got me was saying his Republican colleagues will work to stop this from becoming law. That is good. But if he thinks that means I’m going to trust him and his Republican colleagues to do the right thing if they are put back in charge, then he’s made a leap in his logic as far as I’m concerned.

As one person who is beginning to feel like I identify more with the TEA Party than the Republican Party, at least those in leadership in Washington, I think Sen. McConnell needs to get “an earful” too. In my opinion, the Republican leadership in Washington owes rank and file Republicans and liberty-loving, fiscally conservative Americans of every political stripe a HUGE public apology for their complicity in this bill.

Republican Complicity

You may wonder what I mean since no Republican voted for the bill. Well, here’s what I mean.

Had Republicans not done such a horrible job once they took over control in 1994, had they stuck to their platform position on limited government and fiscal responsibility, and had they not driven budget earmarks (political words for what normal people would call bribes and kickbacks) that have really gotten the federal budget in such a mess, then maybe not as many Americans, rightly knowing something was wrong, would have grasped for “change” in 2006 and 2008.

Had Republicans in Washington done their job from 1994 to 2006, we might not have had such a fiscally irresponsible, unconstitutional, liberty-and-property-seizing bill being crammed down our throats. Things did not go from good to bad with the elections in 2006 and 2008; they went from bad to worse. But things being worse does not make the bad better or okay. Bad is bad.

If the Congressmen (Senate and House) who were in Washington from 1994 to 2006 (Sen. Corker, you get a pass; you weren’t there) want my vote—want to get invited to my election year “tea party”—then I had better hear a sincere public apology from them personally or as a caucus or as a party, admitting that they had a hand in putting America where it is fiscally.

I don’t mind giving a person a second chance, and you know Sen. McConnell and his colleagues are hoping we’ll give it to them. But, if you ask me, why give someone another chance if they haven’t admitted their own wrongdoing first? Who takes back an adulterous spouse who is unrepentant and unapologetic?

Unrepentant Adulterers

And the fact is Washington Republicans were adulterous in their allegiance to their platform principles. They went whoring after votes (see Old Testament Hosea for the propriety of that word in this context), the same as Democrats do by giving things to everybody who could line their pockets with campaign cash and blocks of votes. To heck with being a statesman and standing for what is just and righteous or even just plain constitutional and fiscally prudent. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an unrepentant person (or party) back in a position to do more of the same to me than they’ve done in the past. Better to be betrayed by a known opponent than a supposed friend and ally.

Oh, I want change now, too. But I want change I can really believe in. And I assure you right now I’m skeptical of both parties.

I’m waiting for my apology. And I doubt I’m alone. Is there anyone else holding a tea party like mine?