Tea-Party Activist Going After ‘Crony Capitalists’

Michael Flynn is a Breitbart columnist and political director of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, February 2014
National Journal
Feb. 12, 2014, 2:05 p.m.

In Feb­ru­ary 2009, Mi­chael Flynn was drink­ing cof­fee when he saw CN­BC’s Rick San­telli launch in­to a now-le­gendary diatribe on the floor of the Chica­go Board of Trade, is­su­ing a call for a “Chica­go tea party” to dump high-risk se­cur­it­ies in­to Lake Michigan.

“I re­mem­ber spit­ting it out when San­telli did his rant,” said Flynn. “What it told me was that the policy de­bate hadn’t been settled”¦. I, like many oth­ers, con­sider that the birth of the tea-party move­ment.”

Dur­ing the next elec­tion cycle, Flynn helped pizzer­ia own­er Bobby Schilling un­seat then-Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., in a pre­dom­in­antly Demo­crat­ic dis­trict. Schilling won by 11 points. “We took it ag­gress­ively to [Hare] every day and defined what the race was about,” Flynn said. “We dom­in­ated the con­ver­sa­tion and made it about free­dom. There’s no counter to that.”

A self-de­scribed foe of “crony cap­it­al­ism,” the Breit­bart.com colum­nist has watched with dis­may as the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment has strengthened its ties with cor­por­ate Amer­ica. “When I moved to Wash­ing­ton 17 years ago, the in­ter­state was all Fords and Toyotas,” he said. “Now, it’s all BM­Ws and Mer­cedes.”

Last month, Flynn joined the Tea Party Pat­ri­ots Cit­izens Fund as polit­ic­al dir­ect­or. The su­per PAC, af­fil­i­ated with the Tea Party Pat­ri­ots, will not just sat­ur­ate the air­waves with mes­saging, Flynn said, but also “put boots on the ground.”

On the rift between GOP lead­ers and the tea party, Flynn ar­gues that it is the Re­pub­lic­an es­tab­lish­ment that has de­clared war on the party’s in­sur­gent wing, not the oth­er way around.

“Every­one was pre­pared to go to war against pro­gress­ives in Novem­ber,” Flynn said. “Then, out of the blue, the Re­pub­lic­ans, the Cham­ber of Com­merce, the Busi­ness Roundtable, Karl Rove, and all these people de­cided to take on the tea party. We’re go­ing to have to fight back, al­though it’s not what we want to do. They’re the ones who star­ted this fight. They won’t fin­ish it, but they star­ted it.”

Asked why he has de­cided to re­turn to politick­ing, Flynn said that the com­ing elec­tion will be a “pivot point” on mat­ters like Obama­care and the ef­fect of an aging pop­u­la­tion on the coun­try’s fisc­al health.

“This elec­tion is so con­sequen­tial that I felt I wanted to get my hands dirty and do what I can,” he said. “With the re­tire­ment of the baby boomers, we’re about to have a whole dif­fer­ent set of budget prob­lems than we had be­fore. We are com­ing to a point at which more Amer­ic­ans de­pend on sup­port from the gov­ern­ment than con­trib­ute to the gov­ern­ment.”

A nat­ive of Illinois, Flynn was in­tro­duced to the writ­ings of Milton Fried­man and Friedrich Hayek when he was in the eighth grade. He stud­ied Eng­lish and eco­nom­ics at the Uni­versity of Iowa.

“It was a situ­ation where nobody trus­ted me,” he said. “The lit­er­at­ure people were like, ‘Oh, he’s the eco­nom­ics guy.’ And the eco­nom­ics people were like, ‘Oh, he’s that Writers’ Work­shop guy.’”

After gradu­at­ing, Flynn ran a Coca-Cola bot­tling plant in south­east­ern Iowa and then en­lis­ted in a series of con­gres­sion­al and state-level Re­pub­lic­an cam­paigns back in Illinois. “I did it on a lark,” he said. “I had nev­er taken a polit­ic­al sci­ence class in my life.”

In the years that fol­lowed, he man­aged three cam­paigns, beat­ing two in­cum­bents, and was in­volved in nine oth­ers.

At some point, Flynn be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the Re­pub­lic­an Party. “I felt that we had lost the polit­ic­al-policy de­bate, and it was ba­sic­ally go­ing to be a man­aged de­cline.”

All that changed with San­telli’s screed. Rather than an in­sur­gent wing of the GOP, Flynn equates the tea party with the Amer­ic­an pub­lic. “It is not some club draped in flags,” he said. “It’s all of us. It’s any­one who is eco­nom­ic­ally anxious and scared of the fu­ture. It’s any­one who says, ‘Enough is enough!’ “

Flynn, 46, lives in Al­ex­an­dria, Va., with his wife and four chil­dren.

What We're Following See More »
CONCERNED ABOUT A PUBLIC SPECTACLE
Mueller Agrees to Testify, but Only in Private
53 minutes ago
THE LATEST
COULDN'T NAVIGATE BREXIT
Theresa May Officially Resigns
54 minutes ago
THE LATEST
FEDERAL JUDGE WON'T BLOCK SUBPOENA OF BANK RECORDS
Trump Loses in Court Again
1 days ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE CAN'T DO IT WHILE INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE
Trump Pulls the Plug on Infrastructure
1 days ago
THE LATEST
ADMINISTRATION IS 0-FOR-1 ON STONEWALLING THIS WEEK
Parties Go to Court Today Over Trump Banking Records
2 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login