Having spent the last several days in the Granite State I am even more puzzled now than I was late last week when I began pondering this new reality: "The Tea Party is dead."
I don't know what happened between November of 2010 and January of 2012. Does anyone?
How else do you explain it?
Rewind to November of 2010, race after race, congressional seat after congressional seat, governorship after governorship.
Only a little more than eighteen months after President Obama had packed the mall in Washington for his historic inaugural, The Tea Party held it's historic event in which nearly the same size audience--according to maps supplied by the USA Today--had attended. That event catapulted a state by state tsunami-like momentum where grassroots, low tax, small government, pro-founding principles, pro-life, pro-national security, and pro-God forces aligned and an election victory of historic equivalence shook America in 2010.
The driving force of that agitation then as it is still today was the effect of a poor economy, government intervention, federal overreach, bureaucratic mandates, and punitive taxes on the nation's beleaguered small business community. Entitlements, bail-outs, and criminally reckless spending ensued.
The Tea Party believed that the buffoons authoring the mess should be dealt a blow. And in 2010 they leveled power in the Congress.
The single biggest example of this overreach was for Washington politicians, behind closed doors, with no transparency, to take a health care reform law--deem it as passed--and force upon the American people the worst piece of legislation to be passed since World War II.
"ObamaCare", as it would soon be called, was and is at this very moment--in this election cycle--the singular most visible sign that this nation must take a different course.
Some very good people got elected in 2010 to attempt to help lay the groundwork for the complete repeal of ObamaCare. Rising star Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina, and Senator-soon-to-be-the-next-Vice-President Marco Rubio rode the shoulders of these Tea Party votes, and pledged with their victories to return power to the voice of "We the People." The failed candidacies of Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell were also propped up almost entirely by the support of these first amendment patriots who simply wished to keep government in check.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin rallied these troops, showed up and helped them raise cash, enthusiasm, and enlistments.'
The numbers of the Tea Party were tens of thousands of times bigger than the largest Occupy Wall Street gatherings--combined!
Yet only a little over a year later and the goal of the Tea Party to complete it's work and overturn ObamaCare is all but dead.
In 2010 Ann Coulter was making speeches at CPAC warning that if we chose the candidate who had authored ObamaCare to become the nominee, then President Obama would be easily re-elected. She was right of course.
But somewhere along the line instead of being bold, defiant, grassroots, and in control, someone started feeding voters the meme that the man who saw to it that $50 state-subsidized abortions were included in his vision of mandated government health care, was the best of the available choices.
Even Ann Coulter 2.0 drank the Kool-Aid.
Worse yet the choices that are left in the race are establishment folks who feasted on earmarks for a living in Pennsylvania, embraced government involvement in the biggest hoax of our time--man-made global warming, or finally the man that as governor of Massachusetts raised taxes on everything from gasoline to "certificates of blindness." (No it's real... Look it up.)
Your humble correspondant has predicted an easy path that Obama's forces will take to pummel him the candidacy of Mitt Romney into tapioca.
My sources, campaign strategists who consult for the Obama team, confirm that the White House is getting the GOP candidate it wants most.
I need to remind you that the win in Iowa meant strategically nothing. Those delegates will go to whoever the likely nominee is, and won't even be assigned until the convention.
New Hampshire has a puny amount of delegate votes--but at least they will be genuine delegates.
This year South Carolina is where the battle truly begins. South Carolina has more delegates than Iowa and New Hampshire combined and Tea Party strongholds from Virginia all the way around the coast to Texas are delegate rich battlegrounds.
The two biggest priorities for primary voters are to decide which candidate can make Washington as inconsequential to the life of the average American as possible, and who can challenge President Obama directly on the worst legislation of our time--ObamaCare.
Mitt Romney has no track record that would point to being able to accomplish either of these. Even a small whiff of a challenge on ObamaCare by Romney will be followed up with an Obama "thank you" note for writing the health care law for him.
It is almost impossible to believe and downright sickening to accept that in light of the clear mandate of the Tea Party that the GOP stands on the cusp of returning to "establishmentarianism." But it appears that for all the big talk, tens of thousands of local rallies, and the single largest non-inaugural event to ever occur on our nation's mall, the Tea Party has died.
Which is sad. And it's sad for me personally as a supporter, because I believed in the movement and I even addressed those patriots, on that mall, that cloudy Washington day.
That first tea party in Washington took place exactly three days after President Obama's address to a Joint Session of Congress, where he had instructed his supporters on ObamaCare to go "get in people's faces" if they disagreed with the policy. He told his critics that he was calling them out.
I remember bringing that little point to the attention of the close to 1.2 million gathered on the mall that afternoon. The chants of "Here we are, Here we are, Here we are" rang in my ears for days.
Sadly now I wonder, "Where'd we go?"
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "The Kevin McCullough Show" weekdays (7-9 a.m. ET) & "Baldwin/McCullough Radio" Saturdays (9-11 p.m. ET) on 289 stations. His latest book, "No He Can't: How Barack Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change"(Thomas Nelson) is available now.