A guest editorial by Sue C.
I have been active in the Kansas Tea Party Movement since March of 2009. The basic tenants of it are attractive to me. The emphasis on freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and love of the Constitution is inspiring. The tea party movement is supposed to be “a new politics” — one of honesty, integrity, and a return to traditional values.
Unfortunately I have been observing a disquieting hypocrisy in the movement of late, especially in campaigns that said they were going to run clean, honest races. Many are acting like the same Washington politicians they have been critical of. Some of these campaigns are staffed with Tea Party members, hoping to support honorable candidates. Many are my friends.
I will outline a few examples of the “hypocrisy” I have observed, and let you decide for yourself if you agree with me or not. I choose to leave off names. My observations are from campaigns in the in the Kansas first district, Kansas third district, and Kansas fourth district (KS-01, KS-03, and KS-04).
- Campaign staff constantly complain that their competitors are flush with money from “big donors.” Yet when asked if their campaigns would take the same money, if offered to them, I was told, “Oh, yes!”
- Various campaigns have told me that they are very upset about all the endorsements their competitors are getting. Then in the next sentence I am hearing about their attempts to solicit endorsements from similar groups and individuals. One campaign was even encouraging their volunteers to start up blogs, and give the campaign “endorsements” from them.
- One campaign staffer was demonizing the political action committee (PAC) donations another campaign was getting, even going so far as to call them “Washington Insiders.” Come to find out, that same campaign had applied for many of the same PAC monies and endorsements! They expressed anger to me that “their guy” didn’t get the nod. These same campaigns are continuing to this day to try and get money from various PACs not yet committed to a candidate.
- The candidates that are getting PAC money feel that they need to minimize these contributions, which saddens me. The truth is PACs are important in politics: Individuals with similar value systems combine their resources in an effort to help get candidates, who share their same beliefs, elected.
- “We’re not politicians!” This is a constant refrain in so many of the statewide races, and it makes me laugh every time I hear it! These candidates have been kissing the babies, shaking the hands, working the phones for donations, and marching in the parades along with all the other candidates for over a year now. I have to disagree with this refrain: They are all politicians now.
- Tea Party “leaders” are signing up every Conservative they can find to run for precinct committeemen and committeewomen positions, and encouraging all their friends to get in local races. This is at the same time they lament all the “career” politicians who worked their way up through the party through this very same method.
- Some campaigns are saying “We hate lawyers.” The truth is that all these candidates, if elected, will have to hire staffs full of lawyers! The House and Senate bills are written by them. Reality needs to set in: lawyers have a vital place in politics. Folks on the Right will need really good ones to help reverse the harmful laws the current Congress has already passed.
- Quite a few blogs and emails have been written lately which are attacking candidates, starting gossip, and spreading rumors. This is definitely a sad trend that I am seeing. It is horrible to see people I had previously admired practice this destructive behavior. Personal responsibility and integrity are being sacrificed in attempts to advance a political campaign.
Although I could share many other examples, I will now stop. One thing that I have realized is that if we want the Tea Party Movement to continue to inspire citizens, we will need to pull back from the trend toward hypocrisy that I have just outlined. Otherwise the movement will fail. And so too, might our country.