There are many talks now about the Tea Party as if the movement ever really went away. Many are amazed to hear that there are still Tea Parties in various communities. I can say that I know of many who are still functioning through the Trump years into the present, and they have been thriving. The most significant difference was that they weren’t being covered in the media the way they had been, so in that way, a lot of people think that they went away. But I had been to a few Tea Party events with the West Chester Tea Party over the years, so I had known firsthand that they were still functioning. Including recently when I was invited to come and speak at one of their meetings on Critical Race Theory and how it applied to Lakota Schools. Now with Trump out of the White House and functioning as a ghost from Florida, the foundations of his presidency are very much alive and well. The Tea Party movement can once again be heard. They never went away; it was just that the noise of the world made it hard to listen to them. Yet when I arrived at a meeting for the invite cast my way, I was even amazed at how many people were there. It was a packed crowd. The church where we were meeting in West Chester couldn’t have held more people; it was pretty amazing to see. I go back in time with the West Chester Tea Party for over a decade, and they were always a big one with great crowds. But the crowds now were bigger than back then, which says quite a lot.
It was great to see many of the old faces from back then. But it was even better to see many new faces. My participation with the Tea Party in West Chester sort of faded out in 2014 when Trump started to look like he was going to run for president. Then by 2015, it was clear that I made the turn toward Trump while many other Tea Party members supported Rand Paul and his dad Ron Paul along with Ted Cruz. In those early days of the Trump campaign, nobody was taking him all that seriously. But for me, I knew that the fight we had to conduct would be unconventional, to say the least, and that Trump was the perfect guy for the job. My wife and I had several grandchildren by this point, and we often had visits from them on the same days as the meetings. It wasn’t any particular thing, just really supporting different candidates for the presidential run in 2015 and 2016. I still returned to the Tea Party for specific meetings on essential topics, but gradually I went from an every meeting attendee to a once or twice year participant.
However, returning for this little presentation on Critical Race Theory, I couldn’t help but make some additional observations. Over the years, many of the Tea Party candidates that emerged into public office I had stayed close with. Many of them are now mainstream candidates and doing great work. But the elements of the Tea Party itself were very much still in the rock-throwing phase, so the guilt of trust had formed along those lines that were noticeable. Back in the early days of the Tea Party in West Chester, many officeholders attended every meeting. Now, not so much. There were a few here and there, but generally, there was a lack of trust in all elected officeholders that hadn’t been there before. My position on rock-throwers is that it’s a critical part of any management. That’s how you can determine whether or not ideas hold up or not. Yet, if you are successful as a rock thrower, you will eventually find that you will win and become the mainstream. And that is a different animal. That’s the point when you will be the one responsible for making decisions instead of criticizing others for making them, and for many, that is a tough transition.
As I said, I maintained several of my relationships with Tea Party candidates who are now very much at the core of the Republican Party, and I’d like to see it stay that way as long as the shelf life of those officeholders holds up. But there is a perception that just being in the office leads directly to corruption. That is one of the reasons in my new book, The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business; I talk so much about playing poker because, in politics, that is often the game we are playing, just by the default mode. I’d love to have a republic with Jesus in all the offices; it would be a great world if that were the case. But often, and this is one of the reasons that Trump thrived in politics, the people you are dealing with are sleazy and up to no good. But they can be made to your purposes if you play the game correctly. From what I could see of the modern Tea Party, many didn’t think that such a game should be played in politics, that the effort to install purity was the ultimate goal for officeholders. But experience said many of those pure minds would wash out the moment evil touched their sensitive souls, and then you are back to square one with those positions. That’s why I think playing poker is a much more appropriate metaphor for officeholders. Poker is all about managing deceit for the gains of the pot without losing along the way. I have always felt that the Tea Party produced many good poker players who do a good job today without losing themselves. But they needed to be more like Trump and less like the apostles of Jesus who easily fold once vast evils of the political world wash over them in the combat of ideas. I don’t think it’s a void that can’t be worked out, but it was certainly present in the modern West Chester Tea Party.
One thing that could not be debated was the intent, and at that West Chester Tea Party meeting, there were plenty of people who intend to bring good management to elected office. They may disagree about the means, but the intent is clear to everyone, and interest in that intent is as strong as ever, perhaps more so. The Trump Presidency had shown people that much of the evil they thought was out there indeed was. If there was ever a question about the kind of corruption Ron Paul always talked about, Trump rooted it out for all to see, and we are better off for it. Everyone deals with such information differently, but at least now we all know and don’t have illusions about it. What we do about it now is, of course, the real story that is evolving day by day. But putting up with a communist and socialist world with the complete take over of our government by foreign attackers, well, that’s just not going to happen. I could see it clearly in that West Chester Tea Party meeting. And I know it from my political friends who I’ve known as long if not longer than my start with that same Tea Party over a decade ago. Accepting evil in politics was not in the cards, but like most things in life, the wins and losses come in how we play them.