One of the most hopeful signs about the “tea party” movement is that it represents an opportunity to rebuild the Reagan coalition.Â When I joined my fellow Angelenos last month protesting higher taxes and bigger government on the Santa Monica pier, I noticed the diversity of the crowd, social conservatives, military veterans, veterans of the Ron Paul campaign, businessmen, conservative activists and various and sundry citizens from all walks of life.
If you attended tea parties in other towns, please let me know whether or not you had a similar experience.
Considering the diversity of these rallies, the tax and spending issue should be the one to help lift the Republican Party out of its late doldrums and into productive activity, offering voters that “better vision for the future” that Michael Barone believes we need to build on the growing disfavor Americans are feeling for the Democrats.
Barone has blogged much on the need for Republicans to Target Upscale Voters Unhappy With the Obama Economy. His analysis of polling data help confirm a conclusion I have reached based primarily on anecdote, conversations with friends, fellow alumni of my “Ã©lite” New England alma mater and family members.Â A good number of these people share my fiscal conservatism, yet buy into the media image of the GOP as a party in thrall to social conservatives.
“If the Republican Party were more tolerant,” they say, they’d move back or toward, as the case may be, to the GOP.Â It’s why, I believe, the GOP needs downplay the social issues to focus on the fiscal ones.Â To that end, I believe Barone’s point about choices is so important. Young Americans, he contends, “are used to making their own choices, setting up their own networks, taking their own initiatives.”
This issue of choice could appeal to more than just young voters.Â It could only serve to keep senior citizens in the Republican fold, reminding them that Obama’s health care plan would limit the choices they currently have.Â As it helps the GOP retain social conservatives as we remind them that less government means more freedom, leaving them with the choice how to raise and where to educate their children, in public schools, parochial schools or at home.
Back, in the 1980s, when I first talked to social conservatives, they defined their involvement in politics as consistent with Reagan’s libertarian message.Â They were upset with the growing power of government, that is was usurping responsibilities once left to families and private social institutions, including churches.
To appeal to those upscale voters the GOP has been losing over the years, the party needs to focus on an economic message of fiscal discipline. And to show that its economic policies grow from its commitment to freedom, an idea which should resonate with socially liberal suburbanites as well as socially conservative exurbanites –and rural voters.
Maybe the MSM has been ignoring the “Tea Party” movement because it that movement provides a unifying message for libertarians and conservatives of all stripes. Freedom!