THE VOICE OF REASON
Brown

A NEW, CONSERVATIVE VOICE IN THE SENATE?  THINK AGAIN!

"I want to ensure that we leave [our children] an America that is financially stronger and independent: minus a national debt that we can never repay. . . . I have been a fiscal watchdog in the state legislature fighting bigger government, higher taxes and wasteful spending."

These are unquestionably the words of a fiscal conservative, are they not?  Tea Party advocates throughout the country hear them and stand up to cheer.  These are words that motivate people to wait in line for hours at a polling precinct in order to vote, even during harsh weather conditions. Right?  Yes, and they are the words of our newest United States Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, pictured below, who pulled off one of the most notable political upsets in recent history when he defeated Martha Coakley, his Democratic rival.

After Mr. Brown's astonishing victory, Republicans breathed a sigh of relief, for his was the vote needed to filibuster Democratic "tax and spend" policies. The buzz immediately began that the Republican Party had found one of its standard bearers in 2012.  A gentleman with dancing eyes and a broad smile creasing his face reached out to shake my hand the day after the election and exclaimed: "Palin and Brown are the ticket!" I wanted to remind him that Mr. Brown is first and foremost a politician and, in James Bryce's astute words, "'politician' [in America] is a term of reproach, not merely among the 'superfine philosophers' of New England colleges, but among the better sort of citizens over the whole Union."  There is a reason for this sad fact:  a politician will generally strike any Faustian bargain and go to any other extreme in order to be elected.

Let me take a strategic step back for a moment.  The Obama Administration enacted a Stimulus Bill in 2009, with a price tag of $862 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office.  One of the primary goals of the bill was to jumpstart the economy by creating jobs. In a year's time, the number of jobless citizens has remained about the same.  Unemployment among men is at 10 percent, teenagers at 26.4 percent, African-Americans at 16.5 percent, and Hispanics at 12.6 percent.  In the meantime, the national debt is increasing at the astronomical rate of $3.9 billion a day!

So how do Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats in the Senate respond to this state of affairs?  They propose a "Jobs Bill."  It could just as easily be termed "a $15 Billion Addendum to the Stimulus Package." But perish that thought! With practiced deceit these politicians realize that the word "stimulus" now has pejorative connotations among the electorate.  So it is a "Jobs Bill," which nonetheless remains only a thinly veiled continuation of a "stimulus" program to spend our way to prosperity.

Returning now to Scott Brown.  The question before the Senate this week was a procedural one that amounted to deciding whether the Jobs Bill would be subject to a Republican filibuster.  Mr. Brown voted with the Democrats to make the bill filibuster-proof.

Is this the vote of a man who is "fighting bigger government" and does not wish to increase "a national debt that we can never repay"?  Perhaps I am overlooking a crucial bit of evidence, but Mr. Brown's vote does not seem to accord well with conservative governance of any kind, much less the Tea Party mindset.

Arnold Schwartzenegger, the immensely unpopular governor of California, recently stated, "The Tea Party is not going to go anywhere."  He described it as merely "an expression of anger and dissatisfaction."  A broken clock is accurate two times a day.  Perhaps this is one of the rare occasions when "the Terminator" has spoken a political truth, but for reasons that even he himself may not understand.

The Tea Party movement has become little more than an arm of the Republican Party. This fact will insure that Republican candidates court Tea Baggers, who will in turn convince themselves that they have arrived when provided a voice in government. Conservative band-aids are sure to be enthusiastically hailed as startling advances in social policy.  Yet, make no mistake about it, the Tea Party movement has lost its high ground of reflective criticism, and once another Republican like the last is elected President, the occasion will mark the official end of the Tea Party movement.  Gov. Schwartzenegger will have been shown to be a prophet, because the movement will have gone nowhere.

The election of a Republican senator who votes to advance Mr. Obama's agenda is not why I became involved in the Tea Party movement.  It is, however, why I am dissociating myself from it.

February 24, 2010