The Rise of the GOP New Wave (Part 2: The Beginning of the Ron Paul Revolution, Tea Party)

This is part 2 of an extended essay on the rise of what I call the “New Wave” in the Republican party . We are a non-partisan organization at and this bit of analysis should not be construed as an endorsement of the GOP (or any other political party)  in whatever form in any way. 

However I feel that the emergence of the “New Wave” is the most important development in American domestic politics today. The “conservative” party of the United States is in the midst of an historic shift. I wanted to document my thoughts on this shift.

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The first job I had out of college was working as a staffer on The Hill and pretty quickly I learned that the halls of Congress were no place for me.

I had interned at an upstart news network just off the Hill for a couple of years prior and had loved it, but getting the full dose of staffer life was a bit much. Somehow, naively I thought that ideas mattered on Capitol Hill. I know, I look back on this time and want to slap myself, but I still believed that the Republicans were “the party of small government” and that everybody’s goal on the GOP side was make Washington less important in the lives of average Americans. Like I said I was naïve.

I remember my new boss, who is and was a great guy, showing me where the liquor store was near work. “This will be an important place for you.”

I explained that though I liked beer, I really didn’t drink much, especially not liquor.

“You will.” he said with a smile.

And though I never sat down with a bottle of whiskey during my brief tour, I was tempted.

Not because work was terribly stressful, though it was very harried at times, but because I very soon came to realize that the things I held dear, the things I wrote about in papers graded by my very liberal (but fair) professors at Mary Washington College, didn’t matter very much at all in the day to day of Washington DC. It was power that mattered, unabashed power. Though I was young, I should have expected this.

I left Washington and retreated to normal non-political life for a long time.

Years passed, and my conviction that government needed to shrink only become stronger. Having seen the beast up close I knew that both parties were parties of big government. The Bush years proved this.

A Republican president with both Houses of Congress also controlled by the GOP had massively expanded government and increased the deficit and debt. All pretense of limited government gave way to “compassionate conservatism” at home and an unbridled war machine abroad. What ever was left of the “Reagan Revolution” was tossed on the fire. The era of big government was back, thanks to the GOP.

But quietly, out in the hinterlands another revolution was brewing. And unlike the Reagan Revolution, which though it had started with promise was really just a revolution in style in the end, this movement, this bubbling up, this new revolutionary sentiment was actually pretty revolutionary. But it sought not to overthrow the foundational norms of the Republic but to restore them.

I was a stock broker when I became aware of what was going on. Though I was dabbling more and more in libertarian politics and economics in my reading, I was not familiar with Ron Paul. It was only after seeing a few of his speeches via Youtube that I realized the good doctor was speaking my language.

Here was a guy who bucked all of Washington DC and the culture of the place, who said he actually believed in the Constitution, who was warning of a housing bubble (which I felt was obvious in 2004-2005) who seemed like he stood up for what he believed was right. In the wake of the George Bush years Ron Paul, for me, was a breath of fresh air.

In the year to come many others would come to know the Ron Paul Revolution.

The first sparks emerged in Arizona with a group of libertarians trying to draft Paul into the presidential race. They erected giant road signs with Ron Paul Revolution on them out in the middle of the desert. I suppose at the time that was the libertarian heartland. (Barry Goldwater came from Arizona.)

Videos of the people making the signs started popping up all over. Before long there were people in Ohio and Texas and California doing the same thing. It was pretty much the most spontaneous thing I’d ever witnessed in politics.

I figured I had to meet the guy, so I cold called his office for a meeting. Amazingly I actually got one.

On Tuesday January 30th I met Ron Paul in his office. My primary goal was to meet him, but my secondary goal was to see if I could make him a client. 30 seconds into our 20 minute conversation I tossed any idea of bringing up business and just focused on politics. We talked about the Fed and the War, and the few other members of Congress who were positively disposed toward truly small government. I then excused myself not wanting to overstay my welcome.

After shaking hands again and as I was walking out of the office, I mentioned to Dr. Paul that I had heard that he was running for president.

“I haven’t made my decision yet.”

I told him that I hoped he’d run and I left.

As I walked back to my car I remember thinking to myself how different the vibe was in Ron Paul’s office from other offices I had visited on the Hill. It didn’t feel fake.

On March 12, 2007, from the humble studios of C-Span Ron Paul announced that he would indeed run again for president of the United States.