Thousands have rallied on street corners, on the Mall in Dover and at the Riverfront in Wilmington for "TEA Parties". They've called for a more fair media, a limited government restrained by the Constitution and an end to the out of control spending in Dover and Washington. Their signs have read "STOP SPENDING!" and "READ THE BILL". They have made it clear that they are Republicans, Independents AND Democrats and that there is no sexuality, gender or color boundary left uncrossed. Still they are labeled racists, bigots and social outcasts.
I have no doubt that radio personalities like Al Mascitti and the bloggers over at Delaware Liberal may be ignorant of what the Patriot Movement stands for. It's equally likely that they know EXACTLY what it stands for, understand the power of that message and therefore feel they must distort it. I cannot read inside their minds but either they are missing the obvious or they are deceitful. The same goes for the Delaware Democrat Party who may be the only group political or otherwise who actually DOES seem to understand the movement. They fear it and as well they should. The Patriot movement threatens to educate the electorate and an educated electorate more often than not leads to greater freedom and less government. That is why the Democrat Party and their operatives (like Maschitti and Delaware Liberal) work so hard to demonize the "TEA Party". They try to marginalize and push those of us who stand for the TEA Party principles to the fringe. They call us extremists, they call us racists and they call us "teabaggers". It's what liberals do, they attack the messenger and not the message because to be honest, their own message doesn't stand up well in the face of opposition.
The problem is that there is one group that clearly doesn't understand the message of the Patriot Movement. The Delaware GOP establishment. Despite the fact that the Patriot Movement came out in the tens of thousands to help Christine O'Donnell defeat longtime Congressman Mike Castle in the GOP primary in September. Congressman Castle was defeated for three reasons:
1.) He had moved away from his base and had begun courting the Democrats more and more. Perhaps this was in response to the registration numbers, perhaps it was just his nature. Either way he had lost his base. His votes for nearly every spending bill no longer showed him as even a Fiscal Conservative. Most Conservative groups labeled him THE most liberal Republican in the House of Representatives.
2.) He felt like he was entitled to the seat. Castle honestly felt like he didn't have to answer to the people he was sent to represent. This was clear in his answers at the few townhalls he held. It was also evident that Castle had CONTEMPT for many of the Patriot Movement members. He refused to debate or even appear at the same locations as his primary opponent and showed himself to be an elitist who was above those whose votes he desired.
3.) His votes for Cap and Trade and Financial Regulatory Reform soldified his fate. Castle claimed to have read the Cap and Trade bill yet he was stumped about some of the portions of the bill that were read to him by town hall attendees. The Financial Regulatory Reform bill harmed the credit card industry, caused layoffs and generally did little to protect consumers and yet Castle voted for it. He lobbied in FAVOR of Government controlled healthcare before voting AGAINST the bill and then sponsored a bill called the DISCLOSE Act that allowed all current special interests to operate as usual but which would have stifled the very grassroots organizations that threatened his election.
But Castle wasn't the only person that lost. Others around him lost and have faced severe backlash from the Patriot movement and from many Republican voters. Not everyone who lost election did so because they were ideologically like Mike, some lost because they aligned themselves with Mike thinking he was the right political choice. That was a calculation that caused otherwise acceptable candidates to the Patriot Movement to be rejected. For instance, Greenville businesswoman Michele Rollins. In a News Journal article today, Michele Rollins showed that the GOP establishment just doesn't understand the Patriot Movement:
"We need to sit back and say, 'Do we want to be a party of social issues?' If that's the case, then let it be that. But I can't be in that," said businesswoman Michele Rollins, who lost the GOP U.S. House primary to Glen Urquhart.
Urquhart had ripped Rollins for supporting a woman's right to abortion. "No matter how often I said no decent person could be for abortion ... it didn't seem to matter," Rollins said.
Unfortunately, Michele has missed the mark here and her statements are indicitive of the majority of the leadership of the GOP. It was never about social issues. It happened to be that both Christine O'Donnell and Glen Urquhart were not only Fiscal Conservatives but also Social Conservatives however, that was never something that the Patriot movement made an issue. Perhaps below the canal those issues played major roles but New Castle County groups have been focused on three key issues:
1.) Fiscal Responsibility (including cutting spending, lowering taxes and managing the deficit)
2.) Limited Constitutional Government (Government within the bounds of the Constitution which limits Federal power)
3.) Free Markets (Free and open private markets in which people are allowed to innovate, participate and create without government intervention)
Those three issues were issues that Mike Castle and the Delaware GOP as a whole had drifted from. Michele unfortunately aligned herself with Castle which cast her as more of the same. The Republican electorate soundly rejected Castle and that carried on to those they saw as like him. Rightly or wrongly, that's a fact and so is the fact that conservatives in Delaware have felt more and more left out. It's unfortunate for Michele because many of us in the movement saw her as an opportunity where the Patriot Movement and the establishment could have come together. It was not until she campaigned with Castle and positioned herself in percieved opposition to the majority of the electorate that she began to lose favor. In fact, despite her move toward Castle, many Patriots voted for her and not for Castle hence the reason her primary was so close. I for one would not have been disappointed with Michele Rollins and even thought she had the better opportunity to beat John Carney. It is a shame that she and others within the GOP have still not figured out the pulse of the Patriot Movement.
The fact is that the Patriot movement is hard to qualify precisely because it is so grassroots but there are some central themes. A limited federal government who leaves the social issues to the States and who constrains itself within the boundaries of the Constitution leads the way. We also expect the government to get a handle on spending, on the budget deficit and on the out of control taxation. Then we expect the government to ensure that our business markets are free and open to the public and that government stays out of the market as much as possible. The problem is that the Delaware Republican electorate did not see the party embracing these ideals and neither did the Patriot movement. As such, a change was called for. It is never easy for political parties to change but this was so glaring and so obvious that anyone should have seen it. The fact that the Delaware GOP establishment still can't, shows that they may still have learning to do. The Patriot Movement is willing to teach them if need be. The following quote from former 6th District Rep Tom Kovach shows that some establishment Republicans haven't heard the message yet:
"Let's focus on the fiscal conservancy of the party," said former state Rep. Tom Kovach, who lost re-election in a northern New Castle County district
Thanks Tom, we've BEEN focusing on that. The problem is that the establishment wants to pick the candidates themselves for us. Now, in a desperate move to explain rejection by the left AND the right, the establishment is claiming that this was fiscal conservatives vs. social conservatives. It was not. Mike Castle was NOT a fiscal conservative and hadn't been in almost 10 years. Mike Castle was not even a MODERATE Republican, he was a Progressive left learning Republican who had more in common with liberal Democrats than he did with conservative Republicans. The people had their say and they chose candidates that should have moved the leadership to understand it needed to moderate BACK to the right in it's choices of candidates. Instead it has confused some moderates and sent Mike Castle into a rage that has led him to conclude that he has to start a war over control of the Republican Party. Castle is now choosing candidates that stand in near direct opposition to what the electorate voted for in September. Time will tell but the hope is that the Delaware GOP will figure it out sooner, rather than later. The only way to win is to work together.