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Bradley Rees: A time for choosing

“A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets. A philosophical battle is a nuclear war.” These words were written by Ayn Rand way back in 1964. This sentiment was, at one time, shared by the Tea Party groups that inhabit central Virginia. They understood that the time for fixing those metaphorical rusty bayonets to unreliable antique muskets was past, and that a new war was raging.

This new struggle represents a fundamental disagreement over the very philosophical basis of our great Republic, and whether our future course will reflect or even remotely resemble it.

There are still a few who recognize this central fact upon which the national Tea Party movement was built, but there are many more who fall into the ranks of what the central Virginia Tea Party has now become: yet another partisan group, concerned merely with short-term political victory. Preferably Republican.

There are far too many examples of this paradigm shift to include in the limited space allotted here, so the most egregious will have to suffice. During the 5th District GOP primary, 6 truly conservative candidates garnered over fifty-two percent of the vote, giving a clear indication of their lack of enthusiasm for and/or trust of State Senator Robert Hurt.

Tea Party leaders throughout the Fighting Fifth also voiced their displeasure with his voting record, some even going so far as to formally endorse other candidates.

But all that changed rapidly, once the primary was over. The GOP, which already had their hooks deep into the local Tea Party groups, began flexing their muscles even more.

The whispers of “Come with us. We’ve been around longer and we understand how to get things done in politics” gained volume and force, and the Tea Party groups (and some former primary candidates) believed that they were becoming the bestest buddies of the GOP. They were convinced they would be granted a prime place at the GOP table, if only they would capitulate, grovel, and compromise “just this once.”

And the Tea Parties, throwing caution to the wind and consciously ignoring those old warnings from Mom and Dad, accepted the sucker and climbed into the panel van with the nice man who was surely sent by Mom to pick them up, just as he told them he was.

Some have said that the Tea Party movement has been hijacked. I disagree and submit that it is much more in keeping with the preceding scenario; a consensual kidnapping.

The next indication that local Tea Party groups have confused this battle with a political one is their shameful treatment of Independent conservative Jeff Clark. The fear campaign from the right has convinced Tea Party “leaders” that the future of the entire Republic hinges on Virginia’s Fifth District.

In a classic case of missing the forest and running face-first into an individual tree, they have conflated Tom Perriello with Nancy Pelosi, his values and record be damned.

I am by no means a Perriello supporter, as evidenced by the fact that I launched a campaign to run against him, before the ’08 recount was even finalized. My concern here is that principles be paramount.

I know Tom’s principles, and I know Jeff’s. Because they both draw their principles from a deeply-held personal philosophy. Robert Hurt’s principles, according to me and every single candidate that challenged him in the primary, are skin deep and subject to change without a moment’s notice.

The local Tea Parties staunchly opposed Hurt in the primary. This race is being watched closely on a national (and even international) level. Adding those two factors together, a victory by Robert Hurt next Tuesday will be trumpeted by the vast majority of the national media as an embarrassing defeat for the Tea Party movement.

To return to the beginning: “A philosophical battle is a nuclear war.” And a vote for Robert Hurt is the equivalent of signing a unilateral disarmament treaty in 1977.

Bradley S. Rees resides in Bedford.