There has been a major re-awakening regarding this nation's founding, of which the Tea Party rallies are only a part.

One of our early symbols that periodically reappears when this form of political nostalgia overtakes us is the classic coiled rattlesnake with the motto "Don't Tread On Me." There is another flag also from that era. It has a rattlesnake cut into 13 parts. Its motto is "Join or Die."

One observation my semi-liberal Democrat radio co-host Tom Danehy and I share is that zealots tend to form circular firing squads. Too many people fail to recognize the actual role of the group they are part of. Too many leaders of those groups have the same problem.

Political parties are coalitions. The failure of small ideological parties such as Libertarians or Greens to ever amount to much at the ballot box comes from failing to grasp or care that their coalitions must expand, not contract. Coalitions grow their respective base by including additional issues that don't conflict with their fundamental principles and appeal to new folks who are willing to accept most of the views currently held within that coalition.

Note that I stress "most." To demand dogmatic adherence to everything is great for the awards dinner, but really sucks when it comes to winning elections. It defines a sect, not a political party, although political parties contain sects. Parties need clear branding, philosophical consistency and specific agendas, but not total inflexibility.

Both major parties currently have factions that would move them closer to sects. With the Tea Party wind at their backs, some conservatives are ready to purge the GOP of all "RINOS" – Republicans In Name Only, failing to recognize there are few real ones left. They have broadened the definition of RINO to include conservatives from a different sub-species, or those with "imperfect" voting records. They arrogantly decide for the rest of us who requires "purging." Democrats suffer from the same pathology.

It does not require the observational powers of Newton to grasp that the Founders represented considerable ideological diversity. The clearest and longest-lasting division was between Hamilton and Jefferson.

The GOP's line of descent stems from Hamiltonian Federalism through the Whigs into the 20th Century and supported a strong central government. Glenn Beck notwithstanding, Theodore Roosevelt was a Hamiltonian as much in the mold of the Founders as Jefferson, whom TR despised as a divisive slave owner. Conservative Jeffersonians, long ago purged by the Democrats (is there somewhere they still have Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners?) and now part of the GOP should note that conservative Hamiltonians are their current allies against the secular internationalist crony capitalism both despise.

Some conservatives and too many libertarians use the term "NeoCon" as an ill-defined epithet. It's another example of political ignorance on the right. The real neo-conservatives were a few old liberals centered around Irving Kristol and Jeanne Kirkpatrick who broke away from the left over issues like national security. Note that those who mis-use NeoCon are almost always anti-Israel.

Democrats are ideologically far murkier than Republicans. They build their coalition not on clearly defined ideas but on pre-defining tribal identity and victimology – blacks, Latinos, gays, teachers, workers, etc. They are quick to hurl epithets and usually avoid substantive debate. They blow gaskets over people like Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin who won't be herded into groups who get their ideology issued to them.

Conservatives of all varieties along with genuine libertarians not infected with current leftist drivel can best advance the cause of freedom and oppose statist agendas by becoming active Republicans. Some have, others cling to past GOP transgressions, still others have yet to grasp that coalition thing.

It's simple. Join or die.


Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.


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