Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

The Tea Party Grows Up | Commentary

The gleeful speculation of the “demise” of the tea party amidst disappointing 2014 primary results is giving way to a very different reality.

Seasoned political observers have come to realize that the opposite is in fact true; the tea party is maturing as a political movement. Even The New York Times admitted as much when it proclaimed that “on Capitol Hill, the Tea Party wing continues to drive the party’s agenda.”

In other words, we lost some primaries. We won some too. But most importantly, all of the Republican primaries were run on our terms and on our issues. It is clear from TheTeaParty.net’s meetings with members of Congress that there is a growing realization that the Republican Party needs us if it is going to thrive, not only in 2014 but beyond. These members are also aware that if they break their campaign promises or fail to uphold the Constitution, there may be no hope to hold their seats.

As Congress returns to Washington, we plan on continuing to influence Congress and hold lawmakers accountable in Washington. For TheTeaParty.net, that means a relentless focus on four main items:

National Debt/Debt Ceiling: While the United States remains the dominant military, social and economic power on the planet; the ultimate source of that power — economic vitality — is in peril. We have a $17 trillion debt that promises to be north of $20 trillion by the time President Barack Obama leaves office. Our organization is determined to fight against spending programs we can’t afford, and a bloated national debt that mortgages the future of the next generation.

Export-Import Bank: The Ex-Im Bank is a program that hands out freebies to large companies already dominating overseas markets and undermines free-market principles — it’s crony capitalism. Even then-Sen. Obama cited the Ex-Im Bank as a government program that doesn’t work and called it “little more than a fund for corporate welfare,” during the 2008 campaign. Now we hear from the president that we must renew the program — the hypocrisy is outrageous. The tea party will be actively engaged in this debate, reminding lawmakers that they need to reflect the desires of Main Street, in addition to those of Wall Street.

Immigration Reform: Through initiatives such as Secure America Now, we have been very successful in influencing the immigration debate, but we must stay vigilant and unified in our call to secure the border before broader reforms take place. We enthusiastically encourage legal immigration and assimilation, but we must not grow the social welfare state. If we gave amnesty to the 11 million people here illegally, what will ensure that we won’t be dealing with this same problem in 10 years? There is progress to be made on this issue, but it cannot be found in the amnesty bills circulating on Capitol Hill.

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