National Review Online posted A Cardboard Cutout of a Caucus, my icy analysis of the torpor of the existing Congressional Tea Party Caucus.
The caucus issued fewer than a dozen press releases between its founding and July 2012, after which updates became even rarer. Its website has little content and does not even list current members. To find out who belonged in the past, you must go to Wikipedia, which has a comprehensive list of past members, apparently compiled from a page no longer available at the CTPC website. The progressive media have been gloating over the demise of the Tea Party Caucus.
Earlier this year, Representative Mick Mulvaney (R., S.C.) filed papers with the House to start a tea-party caucus. This triggered activity by the existing group, which promised a rejuvenation and received a flurry of press coverage about a meeting to take place on April 26. Mulvaney then withdrew his papers, explaining that he had been unsure whether Bachmann planned to continue the group.
Press coverage ended abruptly after April 26, because the meeting produced no news and no membership list. The website remains vacuous. The only significant recent update has been a press release by Chair Bachmann announcing that she “and 63 of her House colleagues” have signed a letter “requesting that the IRS refrain from these abusive tactics.” (“Take that, you bounders; if you persist, we will speak sternly!”) The letter does not represent itself as having anything to do with the CTPC, however, and Bachmann is not identified as the CTPC chair.
From one perspective, this tale is typical congressional comedy. A few congressional caucuses are powerful, such as the Black Caucus, and a few are active and effective for particular causes, such as the Medical Technology Caucus, but most are phony, created solely to pad the résumés of their members.
From another angle, though, laughter is not in order. The Tea Party is an important political movement. It is under attack for its radical beliefs in individual responsibility, budget parsimony, and the rule of law, all of which are threats to Washington’s political class of both parties. It needs support and protection on Capitol Hill; it should not be used as a prop brought out only when members need it for photo shoots, like the cardboard cutouts of political figures used for tourist photos in Washington.
The piece also talks about the purpose of 501(c)(4) organizations, and how, contrary to current Progressive propaganda, such groups are allowed to be political. The key is whether they are dedicated to broad public purposes or are tax dodges for the founders, not whether they focus on political issues. The Tea Parties are actually paradigms of valid 501(c)(4) purposes.
As for the frequent MSM reports of the demise of the Tea Parties, which are eagerly embraced by the Republican establishment:
[T]he current scandals have boosted the Tea Party’s fortunes. Despite three years of unrelenting, vicious attacks, it now has the approval of 40 percent of the voters, with 17 percent undecided, in an ABC–Washington Post poll released earlier this month. In an NBC–Wall Street Journal poll in January, only 26 percent of voters approved of the Republican party. More recently, only 22 percent approved of the Republican leadership in Congress; 68 percent disapproved. Who is dragging down whom?
The existing CTPC should disband. A cadre of tea-party defenders on Capitol Hill is needed now, and members of Congress should not defer to each other’s whims in this matter. Members who believe in tea-party values, and who are willing to say so, should form a new caucus.