Post Politics: Real revolution requires restraint

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 12:00am

While Republicans remain strong in Tennessee, the brand has clearly been taking a beating nationally.

Polls show that conservative identity is on the uptick of late but still no strong Republican has stepped up to lead the way. The Tea Party movement has been an interesting development but it, like the GOP, seems to be rudderless and unfocused.

The Republican Party though, however sullied, remains a potentially powerful vessel for some small motivated group of individuals to infiltrate and make their own.

This is what a group called the Campaign for Liberty is about. It was founded by Ron Paul as a continuation of his 2008 campaign for President. That year, Paul Republicans gave their candidate an impressive $30 million dollar war chest from a broad diverse donor base.

One of those Paulites is right here in Nashville. Matt Collins, Davidson County Coordinator for the Campaign for Liberty, got himself elected vice-chair of the Davidson County Republican Party back in April in a much talked about runoff election.

While the vice-chairman ship of the Davidson County GOP may not be the height of political power in Tennessee, it is something. And for a movement that, thus far, had only proved it could create a critical mass of Internet trolls who could type 'RON PAUL FOR THE LONG HAUL' in all caps into blog comment sections, it showed some in the political establishment that maybe these crazy Paul types had something to offer, that they were interested in actually influencing the system rather than just making symbolic stands against it.

However, at a recent Davidson County Party picnic, Collins proved this wasn't the case. In a blog post on July 13, Collins recounts an interaction he had with current Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp at that event.

"Several DCRP officers and myself approached [Wamp] near the conclusion of the Picnic because we wanted to discuss HR1207 (Audit the Federal Reserve Act). Representative Wamp extended his hand to me to shake it and I absolutely refused; I am not interested in being friendly towards those who violate the Constitution," wrote Collins.

Wamp apparently had committed the cardinal sin of voting for one of the bailouts of the country's financial institutions back in October. For that, he was refused the courtesy civilized men commonly afford strangers.

Mind you this is not a petulant child or even a college kid who refused the Congressman's handshake but a 27-year-old man — a man who purportedly wants to serve ''the cause of liberty."

Excuse me, but how do you serve the cause of liberty, or any other for that matter, by coming off like an eccentric jerk? This is politics after all. It is a form of combat, but it is not one where a blunt instrument or an antisocial personality is going to serve one particularly well.

What exactly is the point of joining "the system" just to go spit in the eye of the establishment the first chance you get? What kind of influence can one hope to have if, at every turn, one is burning bridges. Politics is as much about personal relationships as it is about policy or ideology. It is about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. And most of all, it is about keeping from sight the knife you wish to plunge into a man's back until you are strong enough to strike the finishing blow.

Collins may think he made a principled stand for liberty when he refused to shake the hand of a "traitor to the constitution" but all he really did was further marginalize a movement that was already marginal.

Whether you are left, right, or moderate, Democrat or Republican, you have to admit that the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement has run out of steam. The Right may still be healthy in Tennessee, but nationally, it is on ropes.

The Ron Paul movement is certainly not the answer to all that ills the Republican Party, but, at the very least, it is a breath of fresh air. It is a right wing movement that shows youth, vigor and potential for growth. If moderated, if absorbed into the elements of the establishment Right, one could see how it could provide some of the vision and foot soldiering for the GOP's trip out of the wilderness.

However, if the Ron Paul Republicans, the Tea party protesters and the other "growth sectors" of the Right remain content with "keeping it real" and thumbing their nose at "the man," they should not complain when their ideas are discarded and dismissed. It is not the Establishment that is keeping the "revolution" from occurring, it is the revolutionaries, through their myopic view of politics, who keep the boot on their own neck.

11 Comments on this post:

By: brrrrk on 7/20/09 at 3:09

Mr. Kleinheider is kidding himself if he thinks the current version of the Tennessee Republican and the Paulites will ever play nice. And I'll give you one very big reason, social agendas. Most Tennessee Republicans would love nothing more than to see this country become more theocratic, and the Paulites would bristle at this suggestion. We're talking cats and dogs here.

By: Smeagal on 7/21/09 at 10:45

You know, much of the opinion of this reporter is well taken. The GOP is certainly on the ropes nationally (as it should be) and is likely on less than the frim ground he states. Also, the CFL movement and the Ron Paul movement has much to offer the GOP as a way to get back to the strong conservative roots it had in the early 1900's. It seems that the promoters of this CFL (Campaign for Liberty) can make or break the movement. I do hope, for the sake of this nation that these "liberty activists" will learn to be civil so their cause can be heard and learned as much of it should be. Civility should always be a part of civil liberties.

By: bhaddock on 7/21/09 at 10:56

First off, I consider myself a friend of Mr. Collins and a contributor to the battle for Liberty in our nation. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Collins' reasons for snubbing Sen. Wamp at the picnic in question and think it's horrid that Republicans in our state are satisfied with voting candidates into office who repeatedly support unconstitutional legislation.

Having said that, I'm quite in agreement with Mr. Kleinheider's overall point. As the Vice Chairman of the Chattanooga Tea Party and Secretary of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tennessee, I believe that it's imperative that we heed the old adage that it's easier to attract flies with honey than with vinegar.

I'm sure that many of my fellow activists will vehemently disagree with me on this point, but I'm more concerned about developing a viable political voice than punching everyone out who doesn't agree with me.

Our nation's future, and that of our progeny, depends on us being able to communicate the merits of our cause(s) without pissing everyone around us off.

Honestly... remember the guy in high school that always disagreed with everyone, no matter what the topic of conversation? We don't want to be that guy. If we want better candidates, we have to work to find those who are the best suited for what we want to accomplish. Remember: SOMEONE is going to win the election... and the fact that we're so splintered and disorganized is only hurting us.

I see this article as a challenge for all of us to become organized, set aside our differences, and make this nation a better place for our children and their children.

By: AlabanaWildMan on 7/21/09 at 11:20

The Good Lord must LOVE Stupid People, because he sure seems to have made a great deal many of them.
...the, supposed, writer of this tripe being the Crown Price of that very group...

ANY Group of mostly-single-goal-oriented people that are able to raise over $30 MILLION canNOT be remotely considered as "...marginal...". Those misguided individuals that attempt to belittle that group should be cast aside like so much dust on The Highway to Freedom.

This writer is a prime example of the Poster Child(ren) of Public School Escapees and only capable of using only the intellect that was given to them in single-syringe doses.

I'll wager that less that 0.1% of recent College Graduates have ever completely read The Constitution of The United States -- -- -- even fewer completely understand it.

Is Dr. Ron Paul perfect ?
... hardly ... and he would be first in line to say so. But he is THE ONLY Member of our government that is willing, wanting, and completely able to get this nation back on-track in the direction that our Founding Fathers started US in....

....and that terrifies the souls of those like Mr. Kleinheider and all of the others that believe the Illegal Alien currently residing in The Oval Office is the answer to all of their prayers.

..... more's the pity.

By: Christopher_Bit... on 7/21/09 at 12:27

While it's nice to hear the Campaign For Liberty described as "a breath of fresh air" and "a right wing movement that shows youth, vigor and potential for growth", I fail to see how such a movement will help "If moderated, if absorbed into the elements of the establishment Right."

Is Ron Paul's view, and that of his fans a "myopic view of politics"? If by "myopic" Mr. Kleinheider means "narrow", I will readily agree. The Constitution, including all the amendments, is probably less than 10,000 words. As far as laws go, that's pretty narrow.

I will also readily agree with the observation that "the modern conservative movement has run out of steam", and I'll submit that "the Ron Paul Republicans, the Tea party protesters" are "growth sectors" for the very reason this author decries them. In contrast to the modern Establishment Right, these "growth sector" folks dare to be conservative. To say that anyone has gone too far is to assume some sort of limit. Mr. Collins set that limit on the conservative side of the "bailout" spending. Mr. Kleinheider sets his limit at the maintenance of relationships over a bold statement of principle. I know which view I respect more, and which view is more likely to win votes.

Why not discuss the lack of principles Mr. Collins was protesting? Why not discuss the pandering, and softness, and unprincipled behaviors that vex so many conservatives, and could be said to have lost the most recent election? John McCain has been touted a "maverick" because he is willing to cast aside conservative thinking and join with liberals. Who calls him a maverick? Liberals and neo-conservatives. Sorry, but the "smiles up front, knives in the back" way of getting things done isn't working. Let's try something novel, like transparent honesty. To whine "still no strong Republican has stepped up to lead the way" in an article that chides someone for taking what many would view as "principled stand for liberty" seems, well, myopic.

Yes, civility has its place, but formalism at some point becomes counter-productive and is often insincere. Did Mr. Collins come off "like an eccentric jerk"? Probably only to those who've "lost steam" because they are afraid of the heat generated by a properly burned bridge. Keep up the good work, Mr. Collins. And Mr. Wamp, with "friends" like A.C. Kleinheider, you had best watch your back.

By: pswindle on 7/21/09 at 12:40

I wish that I knew when TN bacame so red. The GOP is in the pockets of the special interest. and I do not believe that Tennesseans understands what has happened to our state. Take a look at what John Harris and the NRA has done to our everyday lives. We must elect people that can better our lifes, and not destroy our lives and our great state.

By: jmdrake on 7/21/09 at 1:39

The cause of liberty isn't served by compromising principle for the sake of party or personality either. Nor did the founding fathers act with the "restraint" you crave so much. Nor did Tennessee's on Andrew Jackson who lead the charge to end the federal reserve of his day.

The sad fact is that Wamp did betray the constitution and his own party by voting for the bailout. So did John McCain. So did Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. And yes, so did many democrats like Jim Cooper. Over 90% of the American people were against this bailout. It was, and clearly is, anti free market and against the best interest of this nation. If I was wallowing in debt I wouldn't "solve" my problems by getting another credit card. But that's exactly what this bailout did. I went to talk to Cooper's people before the vote. By the end of the conversation they were agreeing with me. (Cooper still voted for it anyway). But they added "Well you need to go across the block and talk to Alexander and Corker". You know what? They were RIGHT!

Now this next comment is directed squarely at Mr. bhaddock. As a vice chair of the Chattanooga Tea Party have you been careful to keep the meetings true to the original non-partisan nature of the Tea Party, or have you allowed it to become a GOP rally? At the last Tea Party I went to there was a taped message played from Newt Gingrich. Newt SUPPORTED the Bush bailout. Newt also cut a commercial with Nancy Pelosi pushing the whole global warming scam. Ironically this Tea Party was right after the traitorous house vote on that issue. I realize this wasn't in Chattanooga so that's why I'm asking you what is going on there.

The bottom line is that we can't win our country back by blindly "going along to get along". I doubt if Zack Wamp had taken a vote that was an anathema to the pro life movement that there would be all of this hand wringing about "restraint". Again, 90% of Americans were against the bailout. If all would put aside there differences and for once vote their conscience on this one issue we'd have our country back.

By: MattCollins on 7/21/09 at 2:23

HERE IS MY RESPONSE to the attack upon myself and the liberty movement by Kleinheider:

By: pswindle on 7/21/09 at 3:41

Who started the bail-out? It was Bush, and he created such a mess that President Obams had to go in and try to made the best of a bad situation. Let's get the truth out. We are still digging ourselves out from under Bush.

By: jmdrake on 7/21/09 at 6:04

To pswindle: It wasn't "Bush". It was Bush-McCain-Obama. Remember the "joint statement about the economy" Obama and McCain made?

More democrats than republicans voted for the bailout. But Obama support was needed because most of the congressional black caucus initially voted against the bill.

It took bipartisan support for this travesty to be foisted on the American people. That's why it's important to call out members of both parties that supported it. It's not good enough to sit back and throw stones at one party without taking the bipartisan aspect of it into account. And the "truth" is that all of this was being done at the behest of Ben Bernake, Henry Paulson and other Wall Street elitists and federal reserve insiders against the best interest of the American people.

By: pswindle on 7/21/09 at 9:18

President Obama was not even in office when the first stimlus was paid. That decision was made when Obama was still in campaign mode. Bush was the first one to start this bailout of the banks and financial institutions. I'm not sure that we can ever overcome the damage that Bush/Cheney has done to our country. Have you read any books on Bush and his family? Do so it is an eye opener.