Byline: Dr. Milton R. Wolf, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Democrats didn't understand the Tea Party when it launched in 2009, and they don't understand it now. They proclaim that if Republicans nominate Newt Gingrich
or Mitt Romney, the Tea Party will have failed. They could not be more wrong, and their transparent attempt to dispirit conservatives won't work. Those outmatched liberals who received a good old-fashioned shellacking from the Tea Party in 2010 are hardly in a position to define its future success.
First, however, conservatives must face reality and choose one of these three options: (1) Decide between Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney, (2) devise some near-magical electoral path in the 11th hour that leads to a different nominee or (3) brace for Barack Obama's second term. A rule to remember: Manage the situation you have, not the one you want, or someone else will manage it for you.
America's last, best hope is the Tea Party. This movement is not some third party or nominating body or even some roster of specific people. Instead, the Tea Party is more of a state of mind, and it's time for all Republicans to fully embrace its guiding principles of constitutional fidelity, limited government and free-market capitalism. After all, racing toward the bipartisan cliff of complete economic collapse will end just the same whether it's at the Democrats' breakneck speed or whether the Republicans can compromise the car down to a little slower pace before it plummets.
The path to a 2012 conservative victory is before us, elucidated by an unapologetic champion of freedom - economic and otherwise - upon whose shoulders we stand today.
One of history's minor tragedies is that Nobel economist Milton Friedman did not live long enough to see the advent of the Tea Party era, a movement his lifelong work continues to inspire. The man who guided Ronald Reagan's conservative uprising realized that elections were not simply about men but rather about ideas. The 2012 election must be about principles, not personalities.
People have a great misconception in this way, Friedman explained. They think the way they solve things is by electing the right people. It's nice to elect the right people, but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.
As the race teeters between Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney, conservatives must make it politically profitable for either or both to do the right things. Embrace the Tea Party principles, which are - not coincidentally - America's founding principles. If either man hopes to have the enthusiastic support of the Tea Party - and he'll need it to beat President Obama in the general election - he should enthusiastically join the movement.
It's time to take the crony out of capitalism. …