The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Remembering Our “First Love”: Remarks at the Richmond Tea Party Black Conservative Meet and Greet

In the Bible’s book of Revelation, there is a letter from God, written by John, to the church at Ephesus. In this letter, God recalls the work and faithful endurance of the Ephesians, commending them for their vigor in advancing His cause. At the same time, however, God chastises the Ephesians for forgetting their “first love;” failing to do those things which bought them to prominence in the beginning.

There is a parallel between this letter and where our movement stands today, as we build up for the pivotal 2012 elections.

I don’t think any of us here tonight could have expected the Richmond Tea Party, or any Tea Party group, to have the effect that we’ve had on political discourse on the local, state and federal levels. Our successes reflect that effect. It was our votes that put strong, conservative leaders at the top of our state’s government. Our voices drove the debate over nationalized healthcare and led to the protections for Virginia’s citizens through the Health Care Freedom Act. And it was our grassroots efforts-the phone banks, the neighborhood walks-that placed Congress on the path to restoring those values that we and many other Americans hold dear. These, and more, are our works. To accomplish them, it’s become necessary for us to engage in the political process, and that’s great. It’s what we should do, and no one can say that we’re not doing it well.

But as our engagement grows, we should keep in mind our “first love;” that overarching first principle that is the foundation of our movement: accountability. There are two ways for us to ensure that foundation remains strong. The first is by maintaining our message and principles as ours alone, without regard to those of any political party.

Now, I’m a Republican. I don’t run from that fact. I would love to see the Tea Party movement work with and vote for Republican candidates. That’s happening, and it’s a good thing. At the same time, we must not allow ourselves to become a subsidiary of any political party. If we are to remain the voice of responsibility and accountability that we were at our genesis in 2009, then our voice must remain our own.  We must allow those candidates who want our support to earn it, not to expect it.

At the same time, we must also bring a ration of strategic purpose to our accountability. There’s no need for us to talk about challenging those elected officials who, in Reagan’s terms, are our 80 and 90% friends. A single vote that doesn’t align with our interests or platform is not cause to go to war with someone who’s been carrying our principles for years. What we can-and should-do is make our displeasure known to that official through letters, rallies at their offices, and, if necessary, withholding donations for a while. It is impossible to use the idea of standing on principle to rationalize the concept of voting out someone who stands with us on those principles, save the outcome of a single vote.

Lastly, as a movement rooted in accountability, we must work to hold everyone accountable, not just those who we support. We must ensure that we take our message just as aggressively to those who don’t support our principles as we do to those that do.

Here in Richmond and back home in Norfolk, we share a certain Democratic representative, who we all know and love. We know his works; his support for a government takeover of the private healthcare industry, his votes in favor of raising taxes on small businesses and small business owners. My local Tea Party seems to think it’s a waste of time to go after him because he will always vote the same way.

That logic is beyond flawed. When we fail to take our message to those who don’t vote our principles, we undercut the message of accountability that we are supposed to deliver.  We also give cover to those officials to say, “well, I’m just listening to what my constituents want.” If we don’t bring our voices to the table; if we don’t take the same aggressiveness to those that don’t support us as we do to those we vote for, then as an accountability movement, we’ve failed. As Frederick Douglass suggested, we are supposed to agitate, unceasingly.

Many people say the elections of 2010 were the first true test of the Tea Party’s power. For the most part, we passed it. As we get ready for our second test, we should continue to do everything we’ve done that has been successful. But we should also remember that principle which we were formed on, and keep it at the forefront of our minds-beyond any political success we may have.

Let’s remember our first love, and commit to carrying it with us in all we do.

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Written by Coby Dillard

September 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Editorials

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