Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bill Hennessy Pretends St. Louis Tea Party is Independent from the GOP

Bill Hennessy, de facto leader of the St. Louis Tea Party, wrote a long essay Sunday titled "How Can the GOP Win the Tea Party Vote?" In the essay, Hennessy compares the merits of tea partiers supporting a third party candidate vs trying to "take over" the GOP. The post was interesting and fairly reasonable (at least, if you start off from Hennessy's ideological commitments). However, there was just one problem: the thesis of the article is completely contradicted by Hennessy's actual behavior.

Hennessy argues, I think convincingly, against the prospects of running a third party candidate:

Every state has an array of laws to thwart the rise of new political parties. These laws were written by party insiders for party insiders. While we can decry this reality and demand it change, it won’t change in time for us to stop the White House communists from turning the USA into an oversexed version of the Soviet Union.

Remember that each of the conservative 3rd parties–Libertarian, Constitution, etc.–has been largely unsuccessful in running candidates in races with larger geographic coverage than municipal elections. Would that change if everyone who calls himself a Tea Partier supported, say, a Libertarian candidate? No. Here’s some math. While the 10,000 people who came to Kiener on April 15 may represent 100 times as many tea-partiers-at-heart, there STILL aren’t enough tea partiers to defeat both major parties in any Congressional or state-wide race.

He thus concludes that the only option available for tea party activists is to "infiltrate and rehabilitate" the GOP by generating a strong turnout in the primary races:
The primary election is usually where you’re guaranteed to have at least one non-evil candidate on the ballot. Moreover, you voice is stronger in the primary because so few people vote. In 2008’s general election in Missouri’s 3rd district, your vote competed with over 300,000 others. In the Republican primary next year, that same vote will compete with about 40,000, assuming turnout approaches 2006 levels, the last off-year election. So your primary vote is 7.5 times more powerful in the primary than in the general election.
Again, this sounds reasonable. However, this analysis is quite bizarre in light of the fact that the St. Louis Tea Party has an opportunity to support a legitimate primary challenge in Missouri that fits exactly with their purported mission, yet refuses to do so. Here's what I wrote earlier about the Republican Senate primary between D.C. insider Roy Blunt and actual conservative challenger Chuck Purgason:
First of all, let's just start with the fact that Roy Blunt embodies absolutely none of the values traditional conservatives claim to endorse. He's as much of a D.C. cocktail party insider as anyone can get. He loves government pork barrel projects as long as they help his friends. And, for goodness sakes, he cheated on his wife with a lobbyist! In other words, he is the exact opposite of any ideal the Tea Party claims to stand for.

Not only that, but Blunt has a primary challenger, Chuck Purgason, who is a legitimate conservative. He's opposed to earmarks. He's opposed to having family members be lobbyists. He was opposed to TARP. And most importantly in this context, Purgason but not Blunt endorsed Hoffman and even donated money to Hoffman's campaign. In other words, Purgason did exactly what the teapartiers [edit] were asking, while Roy Blunt completely ignored them.
Now I realize that many tea party activists live in a different reality from the rest of us, and might disagree with all of the criticisms of Blunt listed above. However, even if you don't agree with those criticisms, there are pretty huge criticisms of Blunt around that even legitimate tea party activists take seriously. For instance, Blunt was recently at an event in St. Louis County, and conservative audience members more principled than Hennessy took him to task for his policies that heavily relied on taxpayer money. From Jo Mannies' article, we see that audience members were critical of the following:
-- Blunt's support for the first part of the bank bailout approved a year ago under Bush, and Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit that went into effect in 2006.

-- He also got jabbed for voting in favor of the "cash for clunkers" program earlier this year that offered federal aid of up to $4,500 to get older cars off the road.

In other words, Roy Blunt can not be considered to embody the stated tea party values in any way, shape, or form. On the other hand, his primary challenger Chuck Purgason does. Yet despite these glaringly obvious facts, Hennessy refuses to even acknowledge that Purgason is challenging Blunt in the primary. And he can't even claim that this is because it is an unwinnable race for Purgason. A recent poll showed that Blunt is struggling to crack 50% of Republican support against Purgason despite the fact that very few people know who Purgason is. If the St. Louis Tea Party got behind Pugason, that could all change.

Now I personally don't have any problem with the St. Louis Tea Party supporting the GOP establishment based on their political values. Nor would I have any problem with them challenging the establishment. But surely we can all agree that it's completely ridiculous for them to be claiming to boldly challanging the establishment when in fact they are meekly supporting it. Support whatever you want, but at least be honest about it.

A few weeks ago, Hennessy claimed that it was time to "put up or shut up." Actually, it looks like he's rejected both options. Instead, Bill Hennessy has decided to change the subject and distract his supporters with shiny objects in hopes that they won't notice that he's been supporting the GOP establishment all along.

1 comment:

  1. Please stop trying to foist them off on us. NO THANKS!!!!


    The GOP