The ever-thoughtful former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, who is definitely of the center-right rather than the Tea Party right, nonetheless does a nice job defending the energy and many of the motivations of Tea Party activists in this essay at his web site.
The shortest distance in modern politics is the one between a Republican willing to denounce his party for extremism and the set of a cable or Sunday morning talk show. The gift of exposure is waiting for the cheap ticket of describing today’s Republicans as an intolerant set of know-nothings whom one no longer recognizes…. One modest proposal for Republican moderates: spend more time traveling the side roads to the buffet chains and libraries where, for example, local Tea Parties organize. The virtue of the trip, for a moderate, would be a discovery that a Tea Party conclave is as likely to include a civil engineer, or retired university professor as is the regular party committee, and far more likely to contain volunteers than are the luncheons of platinum level donors. Among other discoveries, to draw on personal experience, the presence of people like one Tea Party activist in Virginia, whose other major volunteer engagement is a network in Richmond for tutoring homeless young adults; or a Tea Party activist in Fairfax County who risked a lucrative career in business development over exposing a client’s wage scale that systematically discriminated against blacks.
Davis does not specifically refer to Colin Powell’s demagogically unfair remarks on Meet the Press yesterday, but his essay’s message (if not its direct intent, which surely had nothing to do with Powell) stands as a tacit rebuke to the Powells of the world who rush to denounce and smear good, decent Americans.
Again, though, that’s not the point of his essay. The point is that centrists and rightists should work to find common ground and build on that, rather than seek areas of disagreement and bash each other over those disagreements. (As it so happens, I have an essay coming out in the February print edition of The American Spectator that makes a plea for a similar approach.) He’s correct, and his constructive advice is one that everybody right of center ought to take to heart.