RALEIGH – Americans for Prosperity Action, the political arm of Americans for Prosperity, enthusiastically endorsed U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (RINO-NC) last week as he faces a primary challenge from the right. Confused? So were we.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was founded in 2004 with a mission to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of liberty, limited government, and against Big Government trends in everything from healthcare to environmental regulation. In 2010, as the Tea Party movement began in earnest, AFP supercharged the limited government movement and was instrumental in successfully fighting back against Obama era proposals such as cap and trade, collective bargaining, and arbitrarily raising the minimum wage.
Tillis, on the other hand, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and has spent the better part of his term ingratiating himself to the Swamp, looking down his nose at what he calls the Far Right, and advancing Big Government initiatives. Even before his trip to DC, Tillis, as Speaker of the North Carolina House, was a key player in creating Big Government state policies such as the renewable energy mandates and subsidies that enriched crony solar interests.
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He commonly holds Democrats’ hands to advance their agenda at the expense of conservative policies, embraces the ‘RINO’ label, and seems to take an arrogant pride in sticking it to the Republican grassroots of the Old North State.
The result of Tillis’ record as a politician, especially contrasted to the talking points he spouts when on the campaign trail, has been one of the worst approval ratings of any senator in the country. Much of the base regards him as an Establishment, Big Government, stereotypical politician more inclined to benefit the Chamber of Crony Commerce than those regular folks in North Carolina whose rights he swore to protect. In this way Tillis epitomizes what many view as the problem in DC.
This is a problem AFP ostensibly exists to solve, but about Tillis, AFP Action says:
“AFP Action is throwing the full weight of its grassroots support behind Sen. Tillis for the important policies he’s supported during his term in the United States Senate and the policies North Carolinians can continue to rely on him to lead on.
In a memo released to interested parties today, AFP Action Senior Advisor Chris McCoy issued the following:
“Throughout his career, from speaker of the state House in Raleigh to the U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis has championed the cause of removing obstacles preventing North Carolinians from fulfilling their potential… Thom Tillis doesn’t sit on the sidelines. He gets in the game and puts partisanship aside by working with anyone to get good things done. In 2020, we should vote to keep that going, and that means voting to reelect Thom Tillis.””
What policies is AFP action referring to? Of course, there are a ton of Republican line votes that Tillis supporters may attach to this point, but that doesn’t really separate Tillis from the pack sufficient for an endorsement from a leading libertarian/conservative organization. What about his constant votes for debt ceiling increases, spending increases, Big Brother legislation like the TRAPS Act, business killing environmental regulation, and public subscription to the man-made global warming farce and the need for government to ‘do something’ about it?
AFP seems to have forgotten these things, or itself and its mission, in endorsing Tillis. Instead of boasting that Tillis ‘puts partisanship aside to work with anyone to get things done,’ they could more accurately state that he puts principles aside and measures success by getting Big Government things done.
Those principles are supposed to be a big deal to AFP. An example of someone who actually holds principles paramount and eschews partisanship only in defense of them would be a senator like Rand Paul (R-KY). But Tillis, who Paul actually helped get elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 after Tillis won his primary and faced a tough general election, somewhat famously stood against Paul and his limited government principles in favor of advancing ever growing Big Government. Tillis votes against Paul’s perennially filed ‘Penny Plan’ to cut federal spending and balance the budget, only to vote for the bill in 2019 in a transparent attempt to defend against a primary challenger on the right.
That primary challenger, Garland Tucker, is far more deserving of an AFP endorsement than Tillis, strictly by the demerits Tillis has earned in his time in office. Of course, that is assuming principles in action still mattered to the influential conservative organization. This endorsement of Tillis, however, screams that pragmatism has now been elevated over principle, even among those groups that purport to stand upon a principled foundation.