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When the Tea Party emerged on the national scene in early 2009, pundits, politicos and the entrenched party establishment questioned whether or not these newly engaged activists would have a lasting affect on the political process.
So, much like we did with our "Tea Party Debt Commission", we went to our over 1.8 million activists and supporters to find out what direction they wanted the GOP to head. What was important to them when it came to the future of the Republican Party?
As an organization we've argued that in order to make any lasting change we would have to offer solutions from real America. We would have to engage at every level of government and in the Republican Party. We would have to be relentless in our pursuit for true limited government principles. As our CEO Matt Kibbe calls it, "The Hostile Takeover." What we began in 2009, we are continuing this week in Florida.
In Tampa, during the Republican National Convention platform committee, grassroots activists from several battleground states presented the 12 most popular planks from the crowdsourced "Freedom Platform." These planks were the result of over 1.2 million votes cast using innovative online voting technology and in depth meetings with our activists. The original 12 proposals that were presented to the RNC Platform Committee in advance were:
1) Repeal Obamacare; Pursue Patient-Centered Care
2) Stop the Tax Hikes
3) Reverse Obama’s Spending Increases
4) Scrap the Code; Replace It with a Flat Tax
5) Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment
6) Reject Cap and Trade
7) Rein in the EPA
8) Unleash America’s Vast Energy Potential
9) Eliminate the Department of Education
10) Reduce the Bloated Federal Workforce
11) Curtail Excessive Federal Regulation
12) Audit the Fed
Out of those 12 submitted, the only plank not adopted in at least part by the RNC is the abolition of the Department of Education. Remarking from Tampa, Dean Clancy explained:
"We did not secure approval for ‘Eliminate the Department of Education’ – which, to be honest, was always the plank we regarded as most difficult to achieve. But the document’s education section does contain good language on the need for local control and a very strong endorsement of school choice, including vouchers. So we rate this section as a partial victory.”
The committee also didn't agree in full to a "Flat Tax", but instead adopted the language of "a flatter tax." We are satisfied with this for now as it is a shift in the right direction toward comprehensive and fundamental tax reform.
“The Freedom Platform should forever put to rest the ridiculous notion that the Tea Party is incapable of engaging in the political arena without compromising its principles,” said Kibbe. “The Freedom Platform’s concise, articulate and fundamentally conservative proposal was well-received by the RNC’s platform committee, and multiple people very familiar with the process called it ‘a primer for other organizations to follow."
The Tea Party and other limited government conservatives should consider this a huge victory. In just three and a half years, they have successfully shifted the RNC back to first principles and away from big government ideas such as their previous support for Cap and Trade. Once again, they've successfully changed the conversation. This is only the beginning. Let the Hostile Takeover continue.