(Richard Viguerie) – The Virginia tea party convention last weekend was the largest tea party gathering to date. It’s a sign that the constitutional small-government movement is getting more traction, and that the big action — even on federal issues and races — is likely to be at the state level.
Conservative boat rockers like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Herman Cain and Liberty Central president Ginni Thomas were stars at the convention. Tea partiers obviously are drawn to principled critics of big government that was created by both parties. Establishment Republicans who aren’t willing to recognize their role in igniting this middle-class revolt need to move out of the way. Or they will be pushed out — see Murkowski, Specter, Bennett, Crist, etc.
Former Sen. George Allen, who was ousted in 2006 and is preparing a challenge rematch against Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2012, spoke at the convention and then took questions.
Asked about what stirred the tea party movement, Allen blamed President Barack Obama and the Democrats. “It’s what has happened in the last year,” he said.
Allen is flat-out wrong. Americans didn’t elect Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as much as they threw out Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Americans were angry about the GOP officials’ lack of discipline and courage, and their profligate spending and abandonment of small-government, Republican principles.
In my 2006 book, “Conservatives Betrayed,” my opening chapter is “Category 5: The disaster coming to America, and how Republicans made it worse.” Allen and his former colleagues should read it —- because it’s about them.
It was President George W. Bush, Karl Rove and the Congress of Allen’s vintage who actually spawned the tea party. It was they who gave us Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
Many Republican officials were — and based on Allen’s comments, still are — out of touch.
Tea partiers know fully the failures of Republicans prior to 2009. Republicans who assert — wrongly — that the tea party is merely a reaction to the even-worse conditions under the Obama Democrats aren’t just kidding themselves. They blindly and foolishly remain part of the problem.
Allen is a good man — and was a far better Virginia governor than senator. But he and many of his Republican colleagues aren’t fooling tea partiers about their role in the increase in the size and scope of big government. In fact, tea partiers are already planning to mount primary challenges in 2012 against most Republicans of the Allen era who haven’t yet been voted out.
The tea party and conservative movement have moved past Allen and others, who, while fond of referring to Ronald Reagan in stump speeches, refuse to admit to, much less apologize for, their role in creating the dire consequences that Americans face today.
Let me remind establishment Republicans of what Reagan said in 1976 — as true today as it was then: Americans need new leaders unfettered by old ties and old relationships.
(Richard A. Viguerie is chairman of ConservativeHQ.com)