For more than 50 years, I have been a staunch supporter of the Republican Party, and I have devoted years to building the party. I will give a brief summary -- not to aggrandize myself but to show the difficulty in supporting the Tea Party Patriots against many of my friends over the years.
I served as the Young Republican chairman in college. In the 1960s, while attending law school, I also served as the state Young Republican chairman. Then I served three terms as Utah State GOP chairman for a total of six years. In 1976, I joined Ronald Reagan's Political Action Committee (CFTR). I coordinated the "ground campaign" in his 1980 election for 19 states. Following his election, he asked me to serve as chairman of the National Republican Committee, which I did for two years.
It is abundantly clear today, and accepted by most Americans, that the country is moving in the wrong direction, both politically and economically. Therefore, today I support the Tea Party movement; I don't rally with them or march with them but I support them because I believe they are the only group that can be a catalyst for reform of our political and economic system. In support of this statement I will speak of only five issues.
First, congressional reform: They support term limits for members of Congress. There is already a "constitutional term limit" on the president. As a congressman, they have to run every two years, so this means he or she will spend excessive time, raising money and pandering in their district, pandering to the voters with special interests, supporting grants, handouts, subsidies for their businesses, etc. The public's good is not foremost in their minds. If the members are limited in their time of service, they will focus more on what is good for the country. You can be assured that Congress will not put term limits on themselves; it will have to come through citizen's petitions on the ballot. The Tea Party has the manpower, the enthusiasm, the commitment to term limits and the organizational ability to get this issue on the ballot in every State of the Union.
Second, presidential campaigns: The method of nominating candidates for president is absurd. Iowa and New Hampshire have a greatly disproportionate influence on the process. Candidates go there followed by a gigantic press corps. They shake thousands of hands and participate in a "dog-and pony-show" for days and even weeks. The debates are nothing but a beauty contest, with candidates, responding for 30 seconds on any major issue. They never get down to any real substance on any given issue.
The press waits anxiously to see one of them stumble or make a mistake that is magnified and spread across the country at break-neck speed; or, if by chance, some candidate performs exceptionally well in the eyes of the press corp, they are promoted for days.
The answer is clear; we need to change the process. I believe both parties should have a national primary in all states on the same day. Then the candidates will have to address the whole nation instead of pandering to one state or region.
Here again, the Tea Party can be an effective catalyst for this change. Certainly Iowa and New Hampshire and some other early primary states may want their own exclusive show but the test should be; "what is best for the whole country!" The campaign debates or "performance" should let the candidates get into the national issues in a meaningful way.
Third, earmarks: One of the major causes of our economic problems is spending on subsidies such as ethanol, tax breaks for the big energy companies, handouts and special treatment for unions and other businesses in the financial world as well as bailouts for banks, etc. Many of these benefits come by way of earmarks which were condemned by President Obama and members of Congress in both parties. They promised to eliminate all earmarks but they did not and they will not without the kind of pressure the Tea Party can bring to bear upon them. No other organization or group has shown the interest and the ability to do so.
Fourth, debt: The Tea Party was villianized for putting pressure on members to hold the debt limit -- and we could have done it without defaulting on our debts. Most Americans don't know it but the U.S. Treasury owes more to the Social Security Trust Fund ($2.5 trillion) than we owe to China.
For years Congress has taken the money paid into the fund by workers and their employers with a mandate in the law that these funds are to be used for Social Security and Medicare.
Legislation was passed in the House of Representatives years ago to prevent Congress or the Treasury from spending the trust monies but the measure was killed in the Senate. The funds have been taken out by the government to spend on all kinds of projects and they left their IOUs for $2.4 trillion. One might ask, how and when can these funds be replaced?
The Tea Party can be a catalyst by making the American people aware of it and putting pressure on the government to do the right thing.
Fifth, jobs: Probably the loss of jobs is the biggest issue today, yet the Congress, the administration, along with its cars and professional bureaucrats, are grinding out regulations every month that hamper business, limiting hiring and costing billions of dollars, even in small businesses such as a 10-man remodeling shop. By the end of 2009, the code of Federal Regulations was 157,974 pages long. These are all roadblocks to someone.
Admittedly, some are worthwhile, but many small businesses don't even know how they are being regulated.
A bill has been introduced in the Senate to pass regulatory reform but don't count on it.
No one read the Obama medical proposal and it was only 2,000 to 3,000 pages. Where is the pressure going to come to make these changes? Not from those who benefit, or those politicians who do not want to offend their constituents or lose votes. The Tea Partiers have the courage and ability to make the choice to tell the story like it is to the American people. And they are not asking for anything for themselves, such as welfare, grants, subsidies or tax breaks. They are patriotic Americans and they have a sincere, patriotic pro-American message. Listen to them -- I have more confidence in them than in either political party today.
Richards lives in Ogden.