Darn straight! I’m a Mitt Romney-supporting, Tea-Partyin’ Utahn …and I’m proud of it!
That’s why I’m confused with headlines flying around the web like the ‘Utah Tea Party Says “no” to Romney‘, and ‘Mitt Romney Feels the Tea Party Heat in Utah‘.
Luke Gunderson at a tea party rally at the Federal Building in SLC.
I look at the evolution of the tea party and wonder if it has grown beyond me. When I jumped aboard (summer of 2009), it was an ever-growing movement of patriotic citizens that were upset with ridiculous government spending and taxation. The movement back then was a flow of different ideas — centered on fiscal conservatism — that came together in harmonious discontent. Toting homemade banners
, colonial hats, and ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ paraphernalia I marched proudly to these events with the understanding that my voice could be heard; and it was.
Fast forward to the current state of the tea party, where (in my case) an individual voice goes unheard. I’m certainly not alone when I say current tea party has left some of us feeling estranged and often disillusioned. What was once a sweeping movement that welcomed the input of any patriot, has become more of a political club with local hierarchies. If you were an early tea party organizer, you are now somehow a spokesperson for the entire group — one that can go as far as deciding which candidates the group will endorse, and which ones you’ll collectively throw under the bus on the grounds of a perceived flaw or two. Granted, there are many factions within the tea party that have branched off and officially formed into advocacy groups that can rightfully assign a spokesperson to represent them… that’s fine by me. The thing that rubs me the wrong way is when somebody assumes a position of superiority in this, a common-man’s movement, and inherently becomes the New York Time’s go-to person when they want to write a story on who the tea party is allegedly going to back in the next race. Enter Utah’s first tea party organizer, David Kirkham.
In 2008, Mitt Romney campaigned on the Washington is Broken slogan, a theme the tea party movement would eventually be formed around.
Kirkham is on record several times saying, among other things, “we oppose” Mitt Romney. Quite a presumption, isn’t it? He may not know it, but by using the word ‘we’, Kirkham brings myself and many others under his umbrella of opposition, and we go unwillingly. We never signed-up to have somebody tell us who we do and don’t support. Plenty of people in my circle (many from Utah) see in Romney a fresh mind, a Washington outsider that has turned financial monstrosities into smooth-operating, profitable entities. We see him as a freedom loving, bold leader that brings innovation to complex situations; a sound fiscal conservative with a lifetime of experience in spending cuts and turnarounds; a charitable figure who puts sweat into each project out of good will, often refusing compensation for the time he’s put in. Indeed, we see Mitt Romney as the physical representation of everything the tea party purports to believe in. Call me a tea party traditionalist, but I wish we could go back to promoting sound policies and fiscal restraint, instead acting like political king-makers.
Now, I’ll be frank in admitting that Romney is not a mega rock star in national tea party circles (as some have made an effort to become), and he isn’t exactly volunteering to be the movement’s frontman. That said, there is sufficient polling evidence that says he’s definitely present in the minds of many fiscally-conscious tea party activists. Just recently, a poll came out of New Hampshire that indicated strong tea party support for Mitt Romney:
In a new WMUR poll, [Romney's] favorability among supporters of the Tea Party is strikingly high – 77 percent and far exceeds any other [potential] candidate.
Romney advisers have argued that even while Romney may struggle with some of the movement’s activists – in large part because of his health care law in Massachusetts – his fiscal message of reducing taxes and cutting spending would resonate with the Tea Party philosophy.
That appears to be born out, at least in New Hampshire. Among Tea Party supporters, Romney’s favorability numbers were far higher than even candidates who are viewed as closely aligned with the movement, such as Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich.
In September of last year, a McClatchy poll showed favorable numbers for Romney among tea party supporters on a national level:
Voters who call themselves conservative preferred Romney to Palin. So did self-described supporters of the tea party movement; 25 percent preferred Romney and 19 percent Palin.”
Further evidence comes from a Marist poll (released in November of last year) that shows Romney edging out potential rivals with 19% of tea party support, compared to Huckabee’s 17% and Palin’s 16%, respectively.
So David Kirkham doesn’t share the same viewpoint with the participants of these polls… again, that’s fine by me. According to Kirkham, his primary reasons for hanging Mitt out to dry have to do with Romney’s initial support of TARP (a stance that tea party favorites Paul Ryan and Herman Cain share, as well) and for a health care bill that Romney instituted in Massachusetts (constitutionally, at the state level, without raising taxes); a plan that many have dubbed ‘RomneyCare’. I could certainly go into contextual detail about why tea party conservatives shouldn’t overlook Romney because of these issues, but we’ve dissected both issues far too much on this site, and to be perfectly honest we’d really rather have a personal sit down with David Kirkham to discuss them. Why not? …He lives right here in Utah Valley!
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Calling all Mitt Romney Supporting, Utah Tea Party Members!
I guess it’s time for this to happen — if only to show that, as a matter of fact, we DO exist: I am hereby forming a group that we’ll call ‘Tea Partiers for Mitt Romney‘. If you feel like you fall into the category, please go to the newly created facebook page and join my efforts (by clicking ‘like’ at the top of the page). I suspect we’ll be recognized and maybe respected if we can produce a decent turnout there.
Let it be known that Mitt Romney was a tea-partier before tea party was cool. He balanced the budget four years in a row — successfully closing the largest deficit in history without raising taxes in Massachusetts, the bluest of states. His poor veto pen assisted in issuing over 1,000 vetos during his term as Governor, hundreds of those vetoes were on spending appropriations. Romney withheld giving the legislators permanent authority to create new committees or to grant committee chairs pay increases. After repeated attempts by the Massachusetts legislature to increase taxes in order to collect more revenue, Romney boldly declared, “The problem here is not revenues; the problem is overspending”.
In early 2007, Romney said these words in the same speech he announced his presidential ambitions:
“I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician. There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements — and too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.”
“We have lost faith in government, not in just one party, not in just one house, but in government. It is time for innovation and transformation in Washington. It is what our country needs. It is what our people deserve.”