by Judson Phillips
Earlier this week, Mark West of the Chattanooga Tea Party shocked a lot of people in Tennessee when he came out and endorsed Diane Black to be the next governor of Tennessee.
Mark’s endorsement of the four-term Congressman flies in the face of the perception that the Tea Party is solidly behind former State Senator Mae Beavers. (Writer’s note: Neither I nor my group, Tea Party Nation, have yet to endorse a candidate in the governor’s race).
Many Tea Party activists and groups are solidly behind Mae Beavers, but as Mark West just proved, that support is not unanimous.
Tennessee activists on social media erupted after word of Mark’s endorsement spread. Many people who are active in the conservative and Tea Party movement in Tennessee were openly critical of him. Others, more disturbingly, opined that the Tea Party did not support Diane Black and Mark essentially had no right to disagree with the majority.
That latter sentiment is extremely disturbing. The Tea Party movement is a movement that is centered on the concepts of freedom and liberty. One of the most fundamental aspects of liberty is the right to make up your own mind.
If the Tea Party movement does not allow for the possibility that people may make decisions that the majority disagree with, then the movement is nothing more than the flipside of the collectivist left.
Liberty means the individual right to decide. Freedom means the ideas that we each hold and offer compete with each other. This is the free market of ideas and a political candidacy is nothing more than an extension of this free market of ideas.
In the free market of ideas, good ideas thrive and bad ideas die. In the political free market, good candidates do well; bad candidates do not.
Liberty means the right of intellectual freedom and the right to freedom of decision. Or as I sometimes tell people who disagree with me, “Liberty means you have the right to be wrong.”
Mae Beavers has some compelling reasons for her candidacy. But we do her, her campaign and this state no great service is we deny the right of people to challenge her and her candidacy. The same thing can be said for Diane Black.
Mark West has not given a detailed explanation of his support for Diane Black’s candidacy. No doubt, in the next few weeks he will. He has every right to express his opinion and state the reasons why he thinks Diane Black should be the next governor. Those who disagree with him have every right and even a duty to challenge his positions and reasons.
One way or another, the best ideas, answers and ultimately the best candidate will emerge.
Unfortunately, there are some in this movement who want to silence someone who does not hold the established position of the movement. Liberals silence those who disagree with them. Conservatives do not.
Freedom and liberty hang in the balance in this nation. They are well served with a healthy debate and some good people who sometimes take contrarian positions.
Mark West’s decision to endorse Diane Black may or may not be a good decision. But he deserves a lot of credit and support for making it.