As one of the 2,500 folks who stood on the steps of the Custom House in downtown Charleston on April 15, 2009, I was heartened to see the backlash against out of control government. I was part of a massive crowd and was surrounded by an endless sea of signs saying things like “Cull Both Herds” with a picture of a Republican elephant and Democrat donkey. Speakers spoke out against not only Barack Obama but against George W. Bush too. They rallied against the bailouts, TARP, and omnibus budget package with the understanding that both parties shared the blame. The crowd was there not only to rally against Democrats, but against Republicans too — against any politician of any party who didn’t stand for the principle of limited government.
Imagine my disappointment when I read this article on the Charleston Tea Party web site this weekend entitled “Shut Up and WIN!” by Mike Murphree, chairman of this group that bears the name of the tea party movement in Charleston.
Chairman Murphree opens up by writing, “My fellow Republicans, shut up and win. That’s right shut up, and win!”
What exactly is this “fellow Republicans” line? I am a Republican myself but I thought the tea party was non-partisan. I must have thought wrong because evidently, the Charleston Tea Party is now a Republican organization that exists to tell its members to shut up and quit complaining about the very things that prompted them all to protest in 2009 in the first place. Instead, work to elect every bozo who runs with an “R” by his name. Great, pretty much no different than the RNC itself. Just what we need.
Mr. Murphree goes on to write, “It is time to fight progressives (most Democrats), and any other manner of ‘feces'; we are the party of Reagan; we are the Great Opportunity Party; we are the party of freemen and the party of the American Dream.”
To a certain extent I agree with Murphree that we need to fight progressivism. But in order to do so, the Republican Party must nominate candidates for office who themselves are not progressives. That is why we must take a stand in the primaries. And yes, that means disagreeing with “fellow Republicans.” Does that mean we may hurt the feelings of some politicians who run as Republicans but govern more like Barack Obama? Sure. It’s not personal, it’s just we want to be a free people.
No, Charleston Tea Party, we aren’t just going to “shut up and win” races for the GOP. We are going to continue advancing fiscally conservative, pro-liberty candidates in primaries because we believe in principles. And we thought you did too. So what happened?
Thankfully, the spirit of the Tea Party movement lives on in Charleston. While the Charleston Tea Party has largely faded away as a real grassroots organization and doesn’t actually do anything any longer, the various 9/12 project chapters across the Charleston area are a force to be reckoned with. (Major props to the Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, and Summerille 9/12 groups!) Their members and Republican Liberty Caucus members work together in a spirit of friendship to advance our shared vision of limited government. We don’t always agree 100%, but we agree most of the time, and I know the real tea party banner is carried by them and they have my respect and admiration.
So perhaps the real conclusion I draw from taking a look at the organization called the “Charleston Tea Party” is that it isn’t really the tea party in Charleston at all. It’s a meaningless name, just like the meaningless “R” behind the names of all too many politicians they want us to just “shut up” and support.
To my true tea party friends and patriots I say this: Don’t shrink back. Don’t settle for an “R.” Don’t shut up; instead, make some noise and win and win big! You are the ones who are fighting for the just and moral cause of liberty and don’t let anyone talk you out of doing what is right.
UPDATE: Charleston Tea Party Vice Chairman Joanne Jones says that Mike Murphree wrote his article outside his capacity as Charleston Tea Party Chairman. That still begs the question why the chairman of a tea party organization would tell tea party members to just “shut up” and back Republicans. However, the Charleston Tea Party web site prominently links to the article, also on the Charleston Tea Party web site. It is also promoted on the Charleston Tea Party Facebook and Twitter feeds. In fact, it’s the first post on the organization’s Facebook page since October. In the post, Charleston Tea Party writes, “Who says winning isn’t everything…” So it sure appears to be something from the Charleston Tea Party even though they claim it isn’t. You can decide.