Since the beginning of the Tea Party movement, I’ve frequently pointed out that much of the energy of the movement emanates from Texas. In many respects, the Lone Star State stands as the last bastion of American individualism. The steadfast commitment of its straight talking, no nonsense, “Don’t Mess With Texas” citizens gives encouragement and inspiration to the rest of us around the country.
For this reason, when my tea party friends in Texas talk to me about anything, I listen with great interest.
Here’s what many of them are telling me about the possibility of their Governor, Rick Perry, running for the Republican Presidential nomination:
Tea partiers in Texas aren’t crying out for Rick Perry to run for President, and they definitely aren’t referring to him as a tea party candidate. Instead, it’s a very savvy and experienced Rick Perry media team that is promoting the “meme” of Perry as a tea party Governor.
Elected officials who want to have a relationship with the Tea Party movement and want to be known as tea party candidates or elected officials seek out tea party people. They meet with them and ask their opinion. Perry, my friends say, shuts out all tea party voices. He doesn’t meet with tea partiers or talk with them to seek either their guidance or their support.
Rick Perry also has a track record of more than ten years as Governor to define himself, and many Texas tea partiers find him lacking in areas that matter most to them.
Here are some specific examples they cite:
Immigration reform – Governor Perry said that Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 was “not right for Texas.” His positions on sanctuary cities and in-state tuition for illegals have also been problematic.
Fiscal responsibility – Governor Perry recently “gave away” the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” without even putting up a fight.
Education – The State Board of Education has long been a target for liberals because of the nationwide influence of the textbook selections made by the State of Texas. Governor Perry refused to join the recent textbook fight, in which the proponents of returning to a more traditional constitutionalist view of America opposed those who favor a more revisionist left-wing view.
Practical Politics – Since the explosion of the Tea Party movement in Texas, there has been an all-out war within the Texas GOP between the liberals and the conservatives. Perry has had every opportunity to step in and side with the conservatives, but he refuses to take a stand. In Texas today, the most powerful political person in the state is House Speaker Joe Straus, a man who follows a very left wing liberal agenda. Governor Perry has done nothing to stop that agenda.
These insights from my tea party friends throughout Texas suggest, once again, the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the various Presidential candidates on the degree to which they support the core values of the Tea Party movement.
I close by noting it’s entirely possible that my network of tea party friends in Texas is far from comprehensive, and I welcome any comments or guest contributions from Texas tea party supporters who have a different view of Governor Perry.
Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .