This the Republican Party's last chance. The 2012 election is going to be one of the most defining events in recent history.
The United States is being taken further down the Road to Serfdom by President Obama, Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, and company--the foundations of which were laid by George W. Bush, Henry Paulson, etc. with the help of current Tea Party darlings, such as Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
In a world still fooled by the Left/Right Paradigm that consists of "polar" opposites in Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, it currently seems as though the most plausible way of putting an end to such a catastrophic legacy is via the Republican presidential nomination.
That in and of itself is usually enough cause to worry as Americans have been let down by Republicans time and time again in the last couple of decades. However, with the emergence of the Tea Party in the political environment, it seems not all hope is lost. In 2010, the Tea Party scored some huge victories, most notably Rand Paul's primary victory over the Republican Establishment and Democratic candidate thereafter.
However, when you go beyond the superficial, it seems the Tea Party isn't what it once was even a few months ago. The Tea Party moniker was already a misnomer when it came to numerous candidates during the 2010 cycle. The Tea Party stands for anti-establishment of BOTH parties and an outright rejection of the status quo, economically, militarily, and otherwise.
However, a closer look at some of the so called "Tea Party" candidates in the 2010 races as well as amongst the current crop of GOP presidential candidates. In my home state, the candidate who won this title by the "conservative" media was Marco Rubio. However, looking at his brief stint as US Senator shows little adherence to any type of anti-establishment legislation that would be worthy of a Tea Party label. In fact, Rubio is grossly more characteristic of the neoconservative ideology of the very people who got us in our current mess in the first place: generally a proponent of the free market, (except when it comes to trade, especially Cuba) at least when push doesn't come to shove a la Hank Paulson, and a foreign policy hawk who believes America should impose its "values" on foreign countries regardless of the sentiment of foreign citizens a la Bush. So, here we have a "Tea Party" candidate, now senator, who is basically a mix of Paulson and Bush. What exactly is so non-mainstream about him? Last time I checked, the Tea Party was against the very ideologies that got us in this mess. So, why is Rubio so highly sought after by "conservatives?" It should be noted that Rubio himself was reluctant to take on the moniker directly himself during the campaign, perhaps for the very reason that he didn't want to upset the very Republican establishment he caters to.
When it comes to the current crop of Republican presidential candidates, a lot of the characteristics of Rubio's misnomer can also be attributed to some so-called "Tea Party" candidates. Probably most like Rubio is statist Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum has made no qualms about his social authoritarianism which seeks to impose his beliefs upon the general public, which he refuses to realize is governed by a secular government. Also coupling Santorum's social authoritarianism is a Rubio/Bush/McCain-like love for American imperialism, especially in the Muslim world. It should also be noted that there was absolutely nothing anti-establishment about Santorum's tenure as Senator of Pennsylvania. As a matter of fact, pre-Obamacare, Santorum was one of many Republicans to vote for the largest government-run healthcare bill in history in the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit plan. So, I ask again, what exactly is Tea Party about Santorum?
It seems that the phrase "Tea Party" candidate is actually more or less applied to neoconservatives, who represent the ideology that sparked the problem, with little-to-no name recognition.
Probably the candidate most identified with the Tea Party moniker, aside from Congressman Ron Paul (who along with Governor Gary Johnson are the only genuine anti-establishment, therefore Tea Party, candidates out there), is Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Here's one to fit the bill. She is a Tea Party activist, speaks at Tea Party rallies, and even started a Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. However, Bachmann's record is not completely Tea Party either. Although Bachmann was against the 2008 auto bailouts that were eventually passed, she did favor a different type of government bailout--not a very Tea Party-like position. Bachmann also favored stimulus funds in 2009 that would go to pet projects in Minnesota. How Tea Party is that?
I'll grant it though: Bachmann is one the least ugly candidates compared to others in terms of record and rhetoric, even though her stance on marriage is a little confusing...
So, with all these misnomers abound in the GOP crop of presidential candidates, along with candidates who are so bad they don't even try to go for that label, like Mitt Romney or Jon Hunstman, there are a few outcomes that can benefit the GOP at the end of the presidential nomination process.
In an ideal world, true conservative Tea Party candidates, Gary Johnson or Ron Paul would be the GOP's nominee for president. However, in this current climate, with an ardent media bias against libertarianism as well as an inherent misunderstanding and erroneous caricature of libertarian philosophy, it's tough, though possible, that either champions will come out on top.
If that is not the outcome, then the only candidates that could possibly convince libertarian Republicans and true Tea Partiers to stay with the GOP are those that are Tea Party-esque. In this category, we have Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Although these candidates are more flawed than the ideal, they are comparatively far less flawed than establishment types. Also, their inherent outsider philosophy is a plus for any true Tea Partier. This anti-establishment, flawed yet willing to learn mentality could be enough to keep the libertarian/Tea Party crowd in line for the GOP.
The third scenario that could keep a mass exodus from the GOP from happening is the nomination of a pragmatic, pure Republican type, like Newt Gingrich, paired with a vice presidential choice of Rand Paul, Gary Johnson, or Jim DeMint--Tea Party/Libertarians deemed to be less extreme and more pragmatic.
However, absent those scenarios, I do not see anything in store for the GOP except a mass exodus of a significant group of libertarians and Tea Partiers, if they go down the most probable road of nominating a talking head, a true politician (which isn't good), someone so intrinsically similar to the Obama and the status quo, like Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman. Even a Rick Perry nomination would be enough to disenfranchise those who know his true record which is impeccably Bush-esque. Tim Pawlenty is enough to drive the libertarians out as well. And you can bet that any ticket that includes either Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would be enough to drive the libertarians out.
I believe that going down this most probable route will be the final straw that breaks the camel's back for many libertarian Republicans and true Tea Partiers. Where they choose to go, or not go for that matter, is immaterial. An influx of disenfranchised libertarian Republicans to the Libertarian Party might be enough to siphon enough votes from the GOP ticket, therefore handing a victory to Obama. This is not a good thing of course, but neither is compromising your principles and voting for a lesser of two evils. This a common thread that has allowed Republicans and Democrats to keep hold of their political duopolies: the fact that, when it comes down to it, there is a perception that even the most disenfranchised voter must still pick the lesser of two evils.
This is will not do anymore. Libertarians and true Tea Partiers are well aware of the special significance this time around. There is no more compromising principles and Constitutionality. Because, in that situation where you must choose between a lesser of two evils, in the end, you are still voting for evil.
The GOP better get their act together or face irreparable damage.