Having been raised by conservative Republican parents who were both into activism long before it became a way of life for countless Americans in the months following Obama’s election, it’s probably not a surprise that I have been a registered Republican since I turned eighteen a few *cough* years back. And no, I didn’t opt to be an elephant versus a donkey just to make mom and dad proud, I actually did take the time to look at the platforms of both parties and ask myself why I wanted to join the GOP.
The Republican platform (notice I typed, “Republican platform” not “Republican elected officials”) just made sense to me.
It reflected the concepts enshrined in the United States Constitution — that all rights come from a higher authority and that government exists mainly to provide for the common defense, support a criminal justice system and create a climate in which individuals and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in a free market that encourages healthy competition.
Long before both Bush administrations came to power, I was familiar with the term “RINO”. In 1976, my entire family reacted with heavy-hearted disappointment and anger when Ronald Reagan lost the Republican nomination to RINO Gerald Ford.
As a kid, I remember suffering through the insufferable Carter years with their long gasoline lines, seemingly endless malaise, foreign policy ineptitude and Iranian hostage crisis — until our sunny optimist finally won the Republican nomination in 1980 and subsequently, the White House.
Watching President Reagan’s speeches and appearances on television with my family was much like watching an Eagles game (without the heartbreaking losses). We’d cheer, clap, jump up and down and shout with delight as Ronald Reagan unfailingly reminded us — in his bold, unapologetic and endearing style — of the greatness of America, the courage of our men and women in uniform and the exceptionalism of our system of government. With moral clarity and conviction, he made us proud and grateful to call ourselves American citizens.
Sadly, upon his departure from Pennsylvania Avenue after serving two distinguished terms, Reagan’s successor wasted no time in reverting the bully pulpit back to “Rockefeller Republican” mode, calling for a “kinder, gentler nation” (whatever that means), raising taxes and ultimately alienating conservatives. Enter Ross Perot in 1992 and — well, you know the rest of the story.
My point is — long before the beautiful Tea Party Movement got underway — I’d always supported candidates who espoused the principles of limited government, strong national defense, capitalism and personal responsibility. And yes, to my great consternation, there were way too many instances when I’d find myself holding my nose to vote for Candidate X because he or she was marginally better than Candidate Y.
By the way, I voted for Sarah Palin in 2008.
And long before the breath of fresh air from Alaska blew in, I read conservative blogs, railed against open borders and amnesty, criticized President Bush’s massive expansion of government and spending, called for the release of Ramos and Compean, supported the war against global jihad (not terrorism, which is a tactic) and objected to the rampant cronyism that defined the Bush years (Harriet Miers, anyone?).
So I was “Tea Partying” before there actually was a phenomenon known as the Tea Party.
Concurrently, I believe that the best way to save our country from socialistic decay is to reform the Republican Party from within. Not only is this the most efficient method, it’s already putting the establishmentarians on notice and yielding excellent results including, but not limited to Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Christine O’Donnell, Pat Toomey and….Marco Rubio.
Of all the aforementioned candidates, Rubio best exemplifies the qualities of the Great Communicator, articulating conservatism with a genuine passion and conviction that has helped propel him to 50% in recent polling. Like other Tea Party Republicans, Marco defied the go-along-to-get-along Republican establishment (which immediately sought to destroy his nascent campaign by prematurely endorsing Obama-hugging, stimulus-loving Charlie Crist in May, 2009) with his heretical talk of spending cuts, deficit reduction, government reduction, and tax relief.
A charismatic embodiment of the American Dream whose parents fled Cuba for a better life for themselves and their children, Rubio quickly attracted a loyal following of constituents fed up with Washington games and hungry for the kind of leadership he espoused.
Crist, on the other hand, embarrassed the GOP (a richly deserved outcome) by showing his true self-serving colors and abandoning the party when he read the “tea leaves” and realized he didn’t stand a chance of beating Rubio in the Republican Primary. Thus, the sleazy opportunist who once invoked the greatness of Ronald Reagan and swore he’d never leave the GOP, threw all principle to the wind (if he even had any to begin with) to run as an “Independent”, emphasis on “I”, meaning “Me”.
And in a recent debate, ol’ Charlie found yet another way to disgrace himself by regurgitating a newspaper’s race-baiting, grievance-mongering claim that Rubio had “turned his back on his Hispanic family”, thus proving his Democrat bonafides, according to Ed Morrissey.
Which brings me to today. As a precinct committewoman, it is my obligation to walk precincts — my own and others — ahead of elections, to help get out the vote. This effort is complemented by the distribution of (gasp!) Republican Party-endorsed candidate literature. So it won’t come as a shock that among other candidates today’s goody bags included information on Marco Rubio.
However, it did cause some angst for a Facebook friend and self-described Tea Party movement member on the Gulf Coast, who chastised me in no uncertain terms that “not all Tea Partiers support Marco Rubio” and that I should “just remember that”.
I replied that as independent thinkers, I hardly expected all Tea Party members to be in lockstep on every candidate, but found her remarks sort of odd since Rubio stands for everything the Tea Party seeks to promote. I then reminded her that my precinct walking activity was a function of my membership in the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee to which she snidely replied:
I’m so sorry for “lumping” you into the TEA PARTY MOVEMENT. Belive me, it will NEVER happen again…..
I politely informed her that A.) Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, DC Works For Us and various 9/12 groups in South Florida all endorsed Rubio; B.) It was very possible for one to simultaneously hold membership in both the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party; and C.) if the status updates I posted on MY wall offended her, she was free to either ignore them or delete me.
Personally, I hope she goes with the last option. Facebook has a friend limit and ever since attaining the milestone of 5,000 friends last year, I’ve had a waiting list a mile long.