There’s a groundswell building against cronyism, and the Tea Party movement can lead the way

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been pushing conservatives to take a new angle in the pursuit of limited government by targeting Washington’s cronyist culture, and it’s a message that the Tea Party movement could carry, as Jennifer Rubin explains:

Alternatively, the tea party might transform itself into a single-issue group. Whatever you think of one-issue politics, the right has a number of successful groups. On the right, the National Right to Life Committee and the National Rifle Association have been influential for years. Likewise, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform has reinforced the right’s no-tax-hike policy in election after election and in key budget standoffs. What issue could the tea party adopt?

The ideal movement, missing on the right, would be one devoted entirely to anti-cronyism. It is a popular position on the right and among all voters. The removal of special goodies in the tax code and budget that distort the market and reward entities that can manipulate big government is sorely needed. And although Republicans talk a good game, there has been comparatively little progress on issues such as too-big-to-fail bank subsidies, energy tax breaks and ag subsidies. Moreover, the original issue that lifted the tea party to prominence was the mortgage bailouts, a prime example of favoritism (not only for irresponsible borrowers but also for the lenders). Devising a pledge as stringent as the no-tax-hike pledge to stop new crony capitalism endeavors and to begin rooting out existing ones would be one way to approach the issue.

The worst-kept secret on the right is that the tea party doesn’t have issues or positions distinguishable from the GOP. An anti-cronyism crusade would be distinct, a counterweight to the influence of big business and a contribution to fiscal discipline and limited government.

That’s how the Tea Party is going to change the narrative about the Republican Party, which, whether GOP die-hards want to admit it or not, has big branding problem with the average American voter. They view the GOP as the party of big business and the corporate elite. It’s true that Democrats cater to special interests and favored sectors of the economy, but the stigma has stuck with Republicans like the smell of garbage on a hot day.

The Tea Party movement needs to get back to the fundamentals, back to the anti-cronyism and anti-bailout message, and begin to lay the groundwork for this next battle with the Washington political establishment, one that could come as soon as the end of this summer when Congress begins to debate the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

The battle, of course, doesn’t end with the Ex-Im Bank. It’s just one cog in the special interest machine. But there’s a groundswell building against the collusion between big government and big business, and the Tea Party movement has always been on the right side of that equation.

The grassroots-based electoral victories will come, but going after and exposing the special interests, cronyism, and corruption in Washington should be one of the main focal points of Tea Party movement.

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