For the Gripper

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Few people understand what the Tea Party movement is all about. Although at first glance it appears to be a collection of anti-tax conservatives, what is really going on is far more profound. To understand it, turn back to the Reagan revolution of the 1980s.

Reagan’s 1980 election resulted from a coalition of traditional conservatives and libertarians, two groups that were at least allies on fiscal issues. But the 1980s also saw the rise of a new faction that called itself neoconservative. Neoconservatives are primarily military hawks, but they are also fiscal liberals. This means they really didn’t fit into the Reagan revolution at all.

George W. Bush ran for president by appealing to the traditional conservatives and libertarians who made up the backbone of Reagan’s support. But after gaining office, Bush proved to be a neocon, making war in Iraq and sup- porting prescription drug entitlements and other costly programs.

After the 2008 election, libertarian-conservative leaders such as Grover Norquist and David Koch resolved to rebuild the Reagan coalition, but without the neocons. Tea parties were the result. We can only hope that upcoming candidates get it and focus on fiscal conservatism both in their campaigns and after they take office.

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