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FreedomWorks Tea Party Plan: Take America Back Now!
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OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
This book/DVD is marketing material for the Tea Party movement, something that might be shown at the start of a Tea Party meeting to let attendees know the background and terminology of the movement. As such, it aims at Tea Party supporters or those who lean towards the Tea Party--rallying the troops, rather than converting the masses.
The DVD is put out by the FreedomWorks organization, which has been accused of being "AstroTurf:" a designation that means "the opposite of grassroots." In other words, critics say that the TK organization pays staff to produce slick marketing material like this, rather than the Tea Party being a true grassroots movement that arises from public dissatisfaction with the government. Mike Pence addresses exactly this issue in his vignette in the DVD's introduction, asserting that "hundreds of thousands of Americans" comprise a "genuine movement" rather than AstroTurf.
Mike Pence is the reason to view this DVD, as we did shortly after his nomination for the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate. Is Pence a Tea Party activist? Yes, since he appears on this DVD and proclaims himself so in other places regularly. But he is more an "insider Tea Party" candidate--he held elective office before there was a Tea Party--rather than an "outside agitator"-type of Tea Party candidate. Pence represents the sort of candidate that the Tea Party would love to promote in primaries against less conservative Republicans, although since he was already elected, he never had to do that.
But mostly, Mike Pence is simply not the "outside agitator"-type at all. He described himself, about his own conservative radio talk show, as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf"--Pence is polite; not easily excited; not prone to flashy displays; he quietly and respectfully presents opposing viewpoints; and accepts defeat when inevitable and prepares for the next time around. Pence certainly represents strong conservative values--but he also represents strong Midwestern values, which means polite respectfulness. Those characteristics are not considered the core of Tea Party values, but in fact, the Tea Party is often strongest in Midwestern venues, so perhaps Pence better represents the real grassroots Tea Party than his more "outside agitator" brethren in the mainstream media.
And what about those strong conservative values? Pence adheres to the standard Tea Party set of values--opposing ObamaCare; opposing federal stimulus programs; supporting strong immigration rules; supporting flatter and simpler tax policy. But Pence also embraces the social conservative issues that the Tea Party avoids--opposing gay marriage; opposing abortion; and most famously defending "religious freedom" rights to enforce opposition to gay marriage; and abortion (Pence's claim to fame, prior to his vice-presidential nomination, was as a national spokesperson for the right to religious freedom, as expressed by allowing businesses to not serve gay customers, or to not fund abortion services in their health insurance, if the business owners expressed a sincere religious belief in opposition).
So what did Donald Trump get out of picking Mike Pence? Well, Pence will not upset any faction of the Republican Party--he is acceptable to the neoconservative faction; he is already a hero to the Tea Party and Christian conservative factions; and he is tolerable to the libertarian faction. Trump's pick served to attempt to placate and unite the Republican Party after Trump alienated every one of those factions, at one time or another. That's an important role for a Vice President during the campaign, and Pence fulfills that role much better than Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie ever could. (Perhaps John Kasich could be seen as a uniter too, but Gingrich and Christie would have pushed the "Trump faction" into ever more opposition with those other GOP factions).
And if Trump gets elected president, what then would be Pence's role? Well, Pence did serve in Congress for a few terms, before he was elected governor of Indiana. That means Pence would serve as Trump's liaison to Congress (to get bills through the arcane process), as well as Trumps liaison to the states (to get national support of federal policies).
Pence himself has written no books or memoirs--so this DVD is all that exists on Amazon for the voter curious about Pence's character and policies before his vice-presidential run. Voters will have to look instead to Pence's speeches as governor, bill sponsorships in Congress, and his voting record.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, July 2016
Page last edited: Sep 01, 2016