In the Sunday edition of the Rio Rancho Observer, Rio Rancho Tea Party board member Larry Ross, tried to diffuse the collective anger of some Rio Ranchoans who are under the impression that the entire city council (Mayor included) align themselves with the Tea Party and have apparently been feuding since the newest councilors took office. While some commenters on the Observer webpage have blamed the RRTP for the turmoil, Ross disclaims tea party responsibility for the councilors’ individual actions saying that all the RRTP is responsible for is supporting candidates who believe in their four core values – free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutional freedoms, and limited government.

Is the Rio Rancho Tea Party to Blame for Council Turmoil?

First it’s important to realize that government is inherently adversarial. There will always be politicians disagreeing, lamenting, and blocking legislation – bringing counter measures and trying to defeat those who oppose them. So is the council in “turmoil” per se? No, not really. The Democratic council we had four years ago was quite a different bunch with agreeable personalities, making it appear as though they were working together and at peace. The absence of “turmoil” is not necessarily a sign of a healthy governing body. What we have now is a group of proactive people who got elected precisely for their can-do attitudes towards changing the city. So rest assured, voters are getting what they bargained for. But government is not a business. It’s not a team of board members working together to innovate and create; that goes against the nature of government. Government is by it’s very nature legal force, and when force is introduced it is natural for people to resist – even the people who get elected.

Second, does the Rio Rancho Tea Party bear some responsibility for the apparent lack of knowledge in practically applying their four core values to local government? To some degree I think it does. For the very brief four months I spent on the Tea Party, I tried to show them that having those four core values was worthless unless they understood the philosophy that supports them. Anyone could take the words comprising those principles and turn it into something that they were not intended to be. By understanding the philosophy of liberty, I argued, they could protect their investment in candidates who won as a result of their endorsements and support by holding them accountable to the philosophy of those principles. The unfortunate truth is that they have not. It was easy for them to preach to the Democratic councilors that sat before the current council, but now the most they get is some snarky guest columns from their president that always favors at least one of the councilors, unquestioningly and unapologetically. I left the tea party behind, ironically because they didn’t like my questioning the actions of their president and board members and holding them accountable to the four core values.

The Inconvenient Truth

The RRTP has lost its relevance. It lost it when it stopped being a political watchdog which occurred late in 2012. The board members that have been there since before the 2012 election  have forgotten what eternal vigilance means and seemed to think there was nothing to be concerned about because their guys won. But that is precisely the time that vigilance needs to be maintained. The truth is that Larry Ross and the RRTP would never have had to disclaim responsibility for the “turmoil” on the council if they had been vigilant about holding the council accountable to their four core values from the get go. I suspect though that they don’t understand how to recognize the nuances of legislation made with good intentions, that do in effect violate those principles. This can only come from understanding the philosophy of liberty. Until that time, the RRTP is up a creek without a paddle.