Because I am unable.
Here rests the rotting carcass of a once great movement. It is the Tea Party.
While the spirit of what created the Tea Party continues to exist, it has been manhandled nearly to death by wanna-be leaders more interested in being recognized than in moving the political narrative forward and creating meaningful change.
When the Tea Party began, it was truly an organization of grass roots people. My biggest fear was that this group, made of common sense people who'd had enough, would be overtaken by some existing leader. I pictured some name brand political has-been or wants-to-become like Dick Armey or Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove would wrestle his (or her) way into a de facto spokesperson of the group, and that the group would become just another arm of the Republican Establishment.
Unfortunately what's happening to this once vibrant, grass roots body may be worse. In a race to maintain its grass roots flavor, no organic, no-name leaders stepped forward to take the reins. That seemed like a good thing. The purists didn't want or need an actual leader. The Tea Party was an organic organization born of political frustration that could sustain itself through sheer passion and hard work. Only, that's not what happened.
Instead of a name brand leader, the group splintered into a thousand different hydra-heads. Hydra, for those who aren't well-versed in mythology, was a nine-headed water serpent. When Herecules cut off one its heads, two more grew in its place.
The dozens of serpent heads bent on leading the Tea Party do not appear to be pure of intent. They want to be players. Here's my quiet example: One such person, who runs a small group in Johnson County, once proclaimed his distaste for JCRP Chair Ronnie Metsker, because at an Olathe Republican Party meeting, Metsker had the gall to not know who this guy was. Didn't I understand this person was the "grand leader of the Tea Party Patriot Activists for Liberty and Change Coalition?" (Yeah, I made that up.)
In the true Tea Party movement, individuals don't matter. (Ironic, I know.) Principles, action, results -- those things matter.Who got credit? Not so much.
I'm not going to mention a lot of names here, because the vast majority of these Tea Party leaders of splinter groups are not relevant or well-known. They are No Namers with heads swollen so large they have their own gravitational pull. I know that's harsh, but truly these people have damaged what was once a great cause.
I am, however, going to mention one name, and only because this brief flame-out's actions need to be condemned.
So a handful of people in Wichita decided to host a Tea Party Convention. I'm told the convention attracted tens of people. As in, at least 10 people, but less than 30 people. It was streamed live on the internet, and I have no way of knowing how many people tuned in. I wasn't one of them. Everything I know about the convention I've heard second hand.
The event was organized by Craig Gabel. I do not know him. I have never met him. What little I do know is this: A few groups and individuals that I admire have distanced themselves from him. They have not specifically said why. So, this is awkward for me, because most of the people I write about in this blog are people that I do know at least a little bit. I can't say the same for this guy, and I want everyone to know, I'm not bashing him to be cruel or gossipy. I am condemning his statements that he is somehow the leader of an umbrella group of conservative groups.
Gabel ran for the Kansas House in 2012. He did not win. In a heated race for Wichita City Council, the opposing candidate requested a temporary protection order against Gabel. He didn't pay taxes on a Wichita steakhouse he owned for 9 years. The restaurant is now closed. He was rejected by the Wichita City Council for a seat on an advisory group due to outstanding tax liens.
Before I go much further, I need to say this: One reason this blog is anonymous is that people will retaliate against those with whom they disagree. That could easily be the case with Gabel. I honestly do not know. I don't live in Wichita. I rarely visit there. The GOP activists I know never mention the guy. That said, the Wichita Eagle must devote a full-time reporter to him, because they've reported a million different crazy stories on Gabel. Gabel also apparently runs (did run??) a free newspaper, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, that newspaper ran an editorial that said a shoot-on-sight order might be advisable if city council members voted a certain way. That's not cool.
So, Gabel is a guy who has made some political enemies. He's rattled some cages and lost some battles. I can deal with that.
What I can't deal with is this random dude attempting to carry the mantle for every Tea Party person across the state. Mr. Gabel, you don't speak for me. Ya just don't. Maybe the two dozen people in attendance elected you to be the chair of your own party, and that's cool. But please, please, stay out of the media asserting that you represent everyone in the Tea Party or conservative movement. I promise, you don't.
The Cap-Journal tried to place all Kansas conservatives under the Craig Gabel banner, and I think that's unfair. A story last week called Gabel's group, "an umbrella organization for Kansas political conservatives."
No, his group isn't. And if, heaven forbid, members of the media attempt to paint tea partiers with the Gabel brush in the future, Gabel should correct them. It's simply not true. He doesn't speak for everyone.
And while we're on the topic, this recall nonsense about Reps. Melissa Rooker and Diana Dierks needs to stop. It's almost the dumbest thing I've heard all day, and I listened to a President Obama speech today, so I've got a pretty long list of stupid.
There is no way on planet earth that this handful of activists from Wichita can get enough signatures to recall Rooker, a Johnson County (RINO) Republican, prior to the 2014 legislative session. I just don't see the point of recalling someone who will be up for election before they take anymore votes.
The people put Rooker and Dierks into office less than two years ago. They are both up for re-election in less than a year.
I'm really not a fan of recalls, primarily because I'm a believer in the rule of law, and I don't know, not living in a Banana Republic. The law requires that Rooker and Dierks actually break the law in order to be recalled. Maybe they have pot-growing operations in their basements, but I doubt it.
Recalls shouldn't be used to ouster people with whom we politically disagree. They just shouldn't. That's why we have elections. So, please, the cult followers of Gabel, stop talking about a recall. It's the absolute NOT CONSERVATIVE position. Conservatives believe in the rule of law, right? Right.
I say all of these things as a self-proclaimed Tea Party member -- not as a leader. Speaking only for myself, please think about what you're doing. Your words are making an awful lot of us look silly.
A quick gander at the
Tea Party Convention platform leads me to believe Gabel and I are mostly on
the same page. From the Cap-J, here are the elements of the group's platform. My comments are in italics.
Elements of the coalition platform:
■ Taxation: Limit property tax abatement to 50 percent, eliminate the
individual income tax, phase out in five years a state business
development program granting 10 percent income tax credits and sales tax
exemptions, and drop the sales tax exemption on services.
(Stop tax abatements all together. Please and thank you. They are the essence of providing financial incentives to friends and supporters. They're gross and ultimately unnecessary.)
■ Education: Redefine "adequate education" in the Kansas
Constitution, ban Common Core academic standards in K-12 public schools,
authorize state-issued vouchers for private education, and block school
districts from using tax revenue to promote bond issues.
(I agree whole-heartedly. Sign me up.)
■ Abortion: Prohibit abortions in Kansas after a fetal heartbeat can
be detected, which could mean a ban on the procedure less than three
weeks beyond conception.
(Yes. Do it.)
■ Environment: Repeal a state plan to generate 20 percent of electricity in Kansas from "green" sources, such as wind.
(How about we eliminate wind tax credits first. That ought to kill the plan. And if it doesn't? I'm not opposed to wind energy if it works. I just don't want to subsidize it.)
■ Workplace: Privatize the Kansas Public Employees Retirement system and prohibit collective bargaining by public employees.
(Sure. Sounds good.)
■ Judicial: Form a committee of the Kansas Legislature to investigate
malfeasance by the judicial branch and develop an enhanced recall
process for judges.
(Judicial reform is a must. I'm not sure this is the answer. Scratch that. I'm pretty sure this IS NOT the answer. Let's fix the appointment process first.)
■ Fluoride: Dictate operators of public water supply systems to
include on bills a reference to research purporting to show the additive
causes mental and physical impairment.
(This is a Wichita thing. I don't get it. I like good teeth. A lot. If it's eliminated from our public water supply, I guess I'll live. But I don't see the urgency here.)
■ Elections: Move all city and school board elections to November to enhance partisan interest in those ballots.
(Calling Ronnie Metsker and Jody WhatsherFace on the Johnson County Charter Commission. This should have been done two years ago at least in Johnson County. I'm still baffled as to exactly how it wasn't changed there already. While we're on the topic, I do think requiring municipal elections to be held at a certain time may be a home rule issue. I'd be pleased as punch if my local governing entities held their elections at more memorable times, but I'm not sure I want the state deciding.)