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What Next for Colorado Tea Parties?

What next?

The Tea Party movement is simply not going to be co-opted by the Republican Party.  It's not a creation thereof, and it's simply not made for the kind of team politics required by any political party.  In order to benefit from the movement, the Republicans will have to earn their trust, and prove that they mean to live by what we say are our foundational principles - smaller government, lower taxes, more personal liberty.  The Republicans can benefit from the movement, but they can neither control nor direct it.

In any event, the next elections are over 18 months away, the next nomination assemblies
almost a year out.  What can the movement accomplish in the meantime?

This is a movement tailor-made for the initiative process.  To push initiatives that clarify for an intentionally myopic State Supreme Court that TABOR means what it says; that retain our control over an initiative process whose purpose is to rein in the legislature; that re-assert our state's prerogatives as a sovereign entity, not merely an administrative district for the Federal government.

It will mean some coordination among Tea Party organizers, and it will mean some savvy and informed polling and political activity beforehand.  They'll need to determine both what can pass and what current Democrat agenda items pose the biggest threats to our freedoms here in Colorado.  It will mean calling in some experienced and informed legal advice in crafting these initiatives.

It may be tempting to over-reach to provoke the courts and remind people aware of what we're really up against, but it can also be squandering a opportunity.  It's a tried-and-true Lefty tactic, but it only works if there's a fall-back position that people are willing to work for, all over again.  Our team tends to have jobs and families, and their team tends to have a Zombie-like ability to keep pressing regardless of losses, so personally, I'd tend to opt for ambitious but effective proposals.

This answer will make Republicans uncomfortable, since by definition, it doesn't involve getting them elected.  But it does involve teaching these newly-created activists how to organize for action, getting them savvy about the political process, and creating results that will get them taken seriously by those who matter right now.  It's a valuable tool in the maturation process of a movement that should be the party's natural allies in showing - again - that our ideas, when present free of personal political ambition, win.

It's one reason why the Democrats - even now - are plotting to make the initiative process, the one process in state government they don't control - subject to as much rule-bound litigation as possible.  They are co-opting Republican goodwill in cleaning up potential fraud, spinning it as a mutual belief that the citizenry needs to be brought under control.

At the end of the day, Republicans have enough institutional staying-power to be there when the movement has matured.  Libertarians are simply not going to get elected to anything, although libertarian-leaning Republicans can.  The party may have to wait to reap the benefits of this movement, and certain team members may find themselves uncomfortable with certain agenda items they have to sign onto.  News flash: not all Democrats are socialists, although that's the agenda of the party.

Too many Republican office-holders and office-seekers will be unhappy with this answer.  But if the party tries and fails to control the movement, it will be seen as irrelevant and meddling.  If it tries and succeeds, it will only strangle the baby in the cradle.

Colorado has one of the most open and welcoming citizen initiative processes in the country, for the time being.  Let's make the best use of it for our ideas, and if we deserve it, the elected offices and day-to-day governance will come our way.

UPDATE: Made a couple of edits, to make this less of a rant at Republicans and more of constructive advice for Tea Partiers.


The tea parties worked because they were a grassroots effort. Now some people, like Michael Leahy at Top Conservatives on Twitter, are trying to take credit for organizing them and to dictate future events.

It's time to do something more than protest. In Colorado, initiatives are a good place to start.

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