Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Teaparty Opportunity Missed?

Life certainly interrupts good intentions. I intended to blog on Sunday and decided to put it off until Monday, but then spent Monday morning from 1:45 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. with Dale in the emergency room. He had puzzling chest pains and had to remain in the hospital himself until 8:45 p.m. Monday night with many blood draws and tests, little sleep, and nothing to eat until dinner time. And the result was inconclusive, but of course that's good news: not a second heart attack (his first "baby" attack was in 2002).

I did get to go home and keep my scheduled appointment with the oncologist at 9 and after that flailed around for the rest of the day on the strength of a one hour nap.

But I had pursued my better intentions on Saturday and gone to the Washoe County (NV) Republican Precinct meetings, all held in a beautiful new high school on the current fringes of the city. I needed to look up directions to get there, and apparently many others didn't do that because the caucuses were sparsely attended. I looked in vain for all the teabaggers that I'd heard had been urged to attend local precinct meetings, but I saw no wild-eyed revolutionaries in evidence (myself excluded, I guess). I was the first of two in my  precinct (out of 2 or 3 hundred registered GOP voters) to show up. Thus, I became precinct captain. Dale says that makes me officially a politician, but I think one has to run successfully for office to achieve that distinction.

So I will be attending the county convention on March 13, and I've even expressed an interest in the state convention in April. But I'm nevertheless uncertain about all this, as was my companion attendee. I want the Nevada Republican Party to stand for something. Eight or so years ago, I abandoned participation in the Lyon County Central Committee because I didn't believe it did  (anymore, of course, than the state Democrat Party of the time). Has anything changed? I think the Democrat Party has become even more Las Vegas centric and even more at the beck and call of the Service Workers Union. So why didn't more teabaggers show up for the nitty gritty work of moving the Republican Party toward their goals?  Please don't tell me that's not possible because I think that sentiment is a cop out.

I attended two teaparties in Reno and Fallon last summer and fall. It was great fun...especially the sunny and hot Reno outing (it was freezing in Fallon). It was terrific to join with people who noisily (but orderly) shared my opinions on the issues of the day (healthcare, national security etc.). I missed them on Saturday, but it is possible some were present in the rather humdrum process of party organizing. This wasn't a time when party platform or even candidates (beyond a straw poll for governor and U.S. senator) were discussed, but it was the stepping stone to the county and state conventions where these will be on the agenda.  It seems a little odd to me that on the same weekend as the Washoe County meeting, sixty national teaparty leaders were meeting in D.C. with Dick Armey's FreedomWorks group and specifically targeting Harry Reid in the Nevada senatorial race as a must defeat while Washoe County Republicans stayed home or enjoyed Saturday's beautiful sunshiny break from the gloomy, wintry grey we've been suffering through of late.

However, there will be a competitive group of Republicans running in the June 8 primary for the party endorsement in this race...despite the fact that the national media seem to mention only Sue Lowden. Teabaggers and everyone else should be following these candidates and becoming involved in the campaigns now and should plan to register and vote in the Republican primary to choose the best candidate. I hope there is no intention to raise up a third party contender. Harry Reid, as unpopular as he is in state, has a huge campaign chest...and probably a lot of political favors to call in. It's not a given that Reid will be defeated, and teabaggers need to work with conservative Republicans to choose a candidate that will embody their principles and a candidate who can win.

On principles, most important, in my mind, is solid fiscal conservatism. This is the keystone issue both for teabaggers and independents, and the latter are essential to ending Harry Reid's dynasty. Social conservatism, of course, is not unimportant. Respect for our constitution, knowledge of our history, and embrace of the traditional virtues of truthfulness, honor, self reliance and self respect really are essential to a strong free-market economy. And participation in the political process is essential to educating and shaping public opinion and successfully electing principled candidates.

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