This past August, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, many Republicans in Congress began questioning the role of the federal government when it came to disaster response. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia notably demanded that federal disaster relief must be offset with cuts to the current federal budget. This idea was seconded by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania who called Cantor’s proposal “reasonable.” The most idiotic statement, however, came from Ron Paul of Texas who doubled down and insisted that the federal government abolish FEMA.
This irresponsible attitude towards disaster relief, however, was not echoed by Republican governors such as Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey, both who realized that their state’s emergency cash would be rapidly depleted without the addition of federal aid.
It would be difficult to argue that the libertarian ideals of small government are not shared between both groups of these Republicans – the ones who condemned federal disaster relief and the ones who welcomed it. But the only thing that separates their view on this topic is the accountability that their position entails. The question, then, is how can a Republican governor who claims ultra-libertarian values — Tea Party values — escape the ideological conflict of accepting federal money and assistance?
This problem has plagued Rick Perry for the past few months and I don’t anticipate it going away anytime soon. Earlier this summer during a scourge of wildfires, Rick Perry condemned the Obama administration for not being adamant about giving Texas federal aid. After all of his insistence that the Federal Government stay away from Texas and his calls for Texas secession, Perry had to concede that the black-and-white tableau of libertarian beliefs had exemptions.
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll places Rick Perry in the lead of the Republican Primary field with 29 percent support. Out of all of those who identify as a ‘member’ of the Tea Party, 45 percent support Rick Perry. This should raise a red flag about the authenticity of the Tea Party’s supposed libertarian values, since many of Rick Perry’s initiatives as Governor of Texas have been dependent on excessive use of federal money. If the Tea Party is truly what it ‘brands’ itself as – a party of anti-establishment, anti-fed, anti-government crusaders — then the candidate ought to actually hold true to those values. Or else, Mitt Romney might as well be the Tea Party’s candidate.