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Inconsistency in Tea Party Political Values
cole horton 14 editorial associate
February 2, 2012

As Republican presidential hopefuls campaign for the party nomination, the Tea Party is stirring confusion throughout the nation with its increasing support of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, an organization that offers Tea Party training, claims, “They don’t care what party you’re in; they just want to know if you reflect their values—limited government, fixing the economy.”

With limited government as one of the most important facets of the Tea Party platform, it’s interesting that Tea Partiers should support Newt Gingrich, who has historically supported big government ideas (compared to the traditional conservative).Gingrich supported an individual healthcare mandate, he “did not oppose” the TARP bailouts, and he openly advocates for increased federal education intervention.

In his infamous radio interview with Glenn Beck, Gingrich reaffirmed his support of an individual healthcare mandate and called himself a “Teddy Roosevelt conservative when it comes to healthcare.” Teddy Roosevelt is, to say the least, not admired by Tea Party activists, for he is credited with issuing 1007 executive orders during his presidency, whereas all ten presidents from Lincoln to McKinley only issued a combined total of 158 executive orders.

Why, then, in a Republican Nominational Preferences Poll conducted from December 1-5 and publicized by, did Gingrich have a 47% approval rating from Tea Party supporters? (The next highest Tea Party approval was given to Mitt Romney, with 17 %).

Why did 82% of Tea Party members claim Gingrich was an “acceptable” candidate, according to a Tea Party Candidate Acceptability Poll conducted in early December?

Finding one answer to these questions is hard to do, but what is clear is an inconsistency in the Tea Party and its values, among which is small, limited government. The Tea Party’s support of Newt Gingrich is truly puzzling.

John Avlon of recently published an article attempting to answer these questions. He suggested such support could have spawned from Newt Gingrich’s early assistance to the Tea Party during their creation in 2009.

In his article, Avlon wrote, “Gingrich supported the Tea Party movement in its earliest days and helped it achieve critical mass…He earned his affection from the Tea Party despite all the subsequent contradictory details about his high-yield gigs as a historian for archvillian Freddie Mac…”

If Avlon is correct, are the Tea Partiers selling their votes to someone who does not represent their political values? We often claim we vote for one candidate over another because we support their political platform and ideals, but is the Tea Party-Gingrich support system an example of the presidential election becoming a popularity contest?

Another Gallup poll recently published shows voters take into consideration friendliness and “how comfortable voters would be having a beer with the candidates” when voting.

We need to realize we are not going to be having beers with the President of the United States. We need to vote for the candidates who best represent our principles and our political ideals.