South Carolina Grassroots Conservatives – Something Old, Something New

TedCruz_at_2015SCTPCThe South Carolina Tea Party Coalition gathered last weekend in Myrtle Beach, and there was never a dull moment.  All the leading right-wing organizations were there, including the Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works, the Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party Leadership Fund, and Americans for Prosperity.  Contenders for the 2016 presidential race made stump speeches.  Senators and congressmen tossed red meat to the hungry throngs.

The event sold out, skewering the notion that the Tea Party is in decline.   Conservative celebrities lined up to participate.  I have been attending events like this for a long time, and let me tell you – these people are more fired up than ever.

Some things haven’t changed.  Barack Obama remains the target of the Tea Party’s ire, and the conservative faithful are more baffled than ever that so many Americans are still oblivious to the damage he continues to inflict on our nation.  And the Tea Party is still an army of mostly gray-haired, fair-skinned grandmas and grandpas.

Yet the Tea Party and the conservative movement continues to evolve.

Lately the grassroots conservatives are as angry at Republicans as they are at arch-rival liberal Democrats.  They stood and cheered as speaker after speaker exhorted them to “hold the Republicans in DC accountable.”  Congressmen Louie Gohmert, Jim Bridenstine and Jeff Duncan got standing O’s specifically to thank them for their anti-Boehner votes.  Still, Rep. Mick Mulvaney came out guns blazing in defense of his vote for the Speaker, and scored some points.

Minorities continue to gain in numbers and in comfort level in Tea Party circles.  While they have always been warmly welcomed by the Tea Party, African American and Hispanic conservatives no longer feel conspicuous and are taking a significant leadership role.

A fairly large contingent of young conservatives also attended.  One of the most compelling presentations came from Lauren Cooley of Turning Point USA.   Cooley, a striking and very hip young lady, is winning high school and college students over to the conservative side at a wholesale clip.  She single-handedly shut down the gender-studies department and its series of obscene programs at Furman University, and handed attendees to a Jesse Jackson event a list of unflattering direct quotes by him, standing her ground in a confrontation with the embarrassed sponsors.  Her charges carry the pithy message, “Big Government Sucks”, and in growing numbers they understand and articulate the abuses heaped on young Americans by their government in recent years.

But the biggest change in the conservative movement is more subtle, and significantly more important.  Grassroots conservatives have learned that they must work within the system to accomplish real reform.  The days of loud complaints but little action are history, as conservative activists now work to reorganize precincts, run for local offices, and learn policy issues in detail, making them formidable citizen leaders and constituents.  And the top conservative organizations all have focused goals with serious action plans in place to accomplish them.

Two larger-than-life issues in South Carolina took center stage at the convention.  A determined group of conservatives led by Greenville activist Diane Hardy contends that primary registration by party would prevent election perversions such as moderate Republican Lyndsey Graham’s narrow win over several conservative primary candidates.  Graham’s name, by the way, was roundly booed whenever uttered at the event.

Another policy issue that caught a lot of attention is the failure of the state to honestly implement its new law that struck down the Common Core standards.  A panel was assigned to write new state standards, but instead they merely copied the Common Core standards and gave it a new name.  An aggressive campaign is underway by Shari Few and her group, South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, to rewrite the standards.

South Carolina is an early primary state, a fact not lost on presidential hopefuls.  Dr. Ben Carson was soft-spoken, but his conservative convictions were rock-hard.  He admitted a lack of experience and expertise in both foreign and domestic affairs, promising to surround himself with smart people.  Senator Ted Cruz made a rock-star entrance and then machine-gunned his well-rehearsed talking points with precision and authority, if not much inspiration.  Cruz knows exactly what buttons to push.  Rick Santorum was sincere, but didn’t show much fire in the belly.  Donald Trump was . . . well, you know.  Arrogant and embarrassingly shallow.  But he was warmly received.

In conversation and informal straw polls, most of the attendees seemed to favor Scott Walker and Dr. Carson for president.

Nobody went home from this event feeling cheated.  I’m sure this group from South Carolina provides a good cross-section of the Tea Party nationwide.  And while the grassroots conservative movement has been consistent over the years in its values and aims, one can’t help but sense the changes underway.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideSha la la la la la,
Live for today!
And don’t worry, ’bout tomorrow, hey
Live for today!

Live for Today – the Grass Roots

 

God Bless Texas – for Louie Gohmert!

louie_gohmert_APFinally – FINALLY a Republican congressman showed the courage and intelligence to stand up to Speaker of the House John Boehner.  It’s Louie Gohmert, from Texas.

On Fox News today Gohmert said, “I’m putting my name out there today to be another candidate for Speaker.”  He voiced his frustrations with Boehner, the same ones we all share, saying, “’You deceived us when you went to Obama and Pelosi to get your votes for the Cromnibus. You said you’d fight amnesty tooth and nail. You didn’t, you funded it!”

There is considerable discontent with Speaker Boehner among Republicans.  A recent poll showed 60% of voting Republicans want him out.  But more importantly, GOP Congressmen are tired of leaders who only show strength against their own members and never against the opposition.  Many representatives have hidden beneath their desks, fearing loss of committee appointments and campaign funds if they fail to toe Boehner’s line.  Some who opposed him in the past have paid the price.

Now those who have been hiding in the shadows can come out without fear.  A dragon-slayer has stepped up.  Many young conservatives ran for, and won, their seats on the promise of opposition to Boehner and the DC insiders.  Finally, they have veteran leadership.  All that’s needed is for 29 members to vote in the first round for somebody – anybody – other than Boehner, and a real election for Speaker will follow.

The fear of reprisals is so lame and short-sighted – if you are tired of getting bullied around, kick the bully the hell out!  Punch back for a change!  Simple, isn’t it?

So-called “conservative” congressmen who vote for Boehner this time around will have plenty of ‘splainin’ to do!  Let your rep know before Tuesday’s vote that you are watching.

God Bless Texas – for giving us Louie Gohmert!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideGod blessed Texas with His own hand
Brought down angels from the Promised Land
Gave them a place where they could dance
If you wanna see Heaven, brother, here’s your chance
Well, I’ve been sent to spread the message
‘God blessed Texas!’

 

Little Texas – God Blessed Texas

GOP Congressmen – Time To Take A Stand!

take-a-standHave you ever had to tell the boss he’s wrong?

One of the stupidest things I ever did is something I am still proud of.  Way back in the day I was a sophomore on the junior varsity basketball team, hoping to move up to the varsity squad.  The first week of practice we were struggling to adjust to our new coach, who operated in Bobby Knight mode with a lot of yelling, cursing, and finger-poking-in-the-chest intimidation, but without as much knowledge and strategy as the famous Hoosier coach.

We were running a drill called the “three-man weave” where three guys pass the ball back and forth while running a weave down the court without dribbling, and the last one shoots a layup.  Only instead of a basketball, we were throwing a huge 15-pound medicine ball.  Coach charged up and down the sidelines, voicing his displeasure with our lack of manhood.  My friend Larry and I were next up, and we charged off the baseline with another guy.  Now, Larry was a great little player.  But he couldn’t have weighed 90 pounds dripping wet wearing clothes, shoes, and a winter coat with bricks in the pockets.  My pass was a little bit too far in front of him, and Larry didn’t have the strength in his sharp-shooting but skinny little arms to haul it in.

Coach lit into Larry like he had just sold his sister to a cannibal tribe, with maximum volume and vigorous finger-poking-in-the-chest.  And I popped.  “Come on coach, he couldn’t catch that!”

You could have heard a pin drop.  Coach walked over to me, red-faced, eyes bugging out.   I can still see that face, but I don’t remember what he said, because my entire life was whizzing before my eyes.  Needless to say, I didn’t make the varsity squad.  Hell, he hardly gave me any playing time on the junior varsity, and nothing I did on the court was going to change that.  But Coach did seem to mellow a little after that episode, and Larry actually was doing pretty well, until his hard-scrabble itinerant family moved on halfway through the season.

I remember that snapshot event like yesterday because for one moment as a geeky kid I stood up and said “hell no” to the boss, knowing I was right and he was wrong, and that it mattered.

Our newly-elected Congress was sent to Washington, DC to stop the damage our nation has endured under the Democrats for the past six years.  Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans oppose Obamacare, support energy development, and want our southern border secured.  The majority of us think it’s wrong for our government to choose winners and losers based on political party, gender, or race.  We are terrified that our children face a national debt that has grown by $7 trillion dollars under President Obama. 

And now President Obama’s unilateral, illegal and unconstitutional grant of amnesty, featuring work visas and eligibility for taxpayer-paid benefits to tens of millions of illegal immigrants (and millions more who will flood the untended border gates upon hearing the news) will cost the taxpayers another $2 trillion according to the Heritage Foundation.

Sadly, even as Republicans are staged to take majority control of the House and Senate, the party’s leadership does not seem willing to hear or follow the voice of the People.  Next week Congress will vote on funding the government’s budget in the form of either a continuing resolution (CR) or an omnibus spending bill, providing them the leverage they need to defund executive amnesty.   Despite the polls and the landslide election victory, the GOP leadership cites a list of imaginary roadblocks.  “We don’t want to get blamed for ‘shutting down the government'”, they wail, despite the total lack of evidence that this tactic has ever had lasting repercussions.  Another excuse offered is: “We can’t defund an agency that operates on fees rather than funding from our discretionary budget,” a claim which was totally debunked by the Congressional Research Service.

Then, according to Congressman Louie Gohmert, the House Republican leadership pulled a “bait and switch” on its members, making unannounced changes to Congressman Ted Yoho’s defunding bill moments before 216 Republican congressmen voted in favor of it.  The last-minute additions may actually grease the skids for the president’s amnesty.  This is the tactic made famous by Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she said, “We have to pass the (ObamaCare) bill to know what’s in it.”

Conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh says there is only possible reason for the Republican leadership to oppose the will of the majority of voters and their own members: they must actually support the President’s amnesty plan.

62 Congressmen, including my own South Carolina representative Mick Mulvaney, showed courage and resolve by signing Congressman Matt Salmon’s letter to the house appropriations chairman, Harold Rogers, requesting a defunding rider.  On a Facebook Town Hall meeting on Friday, Mulvaney said, “I have already told my leadership that I will vote against the Omnibus spending bill if it doesn’t contain defunding language.

To those Congressmen and women who refuse to tolerate the bullying and finger-poking-in-the-chest, I say, “Good on ya.”  And I encourage you to demand the same courage from your counterparts on the hill who know it’s the right thing to do.  Sometimes you just have to take a stand when you know the boss is wrong.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideIf you are confused check with the sun
Carry a compass to help you along
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around

Stand – R.E.M.