One of the oldest axioms in American politics is that “all politics is local.” Well, not always, and definitely not in 2010.

When a tsunami rolls a thousand miles and slams into a beach, each little pebble thinks it’s a “local issue.” The 2010 elections are like that. Local issues are being overshadowed by the tsunami of federal-budget shenanigans and an economic recession prolonged by Obama’s mismanagement of economic policy.

Politicians who see only local issues influencing the 2010 elections are like the blind men trying to identify the elephant by grasping the tail and calling it a snake.

Millions of voters who bought into Obama’s “hope and change” promises in 2008 have awakened to the realities of Obama’s agenda and its impact on their lives. As the classic Bob Dylan song says, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

The odd thing is that so many Republican leaders are waiting for the 11 p.m. weather forecast instead of looking out the window. Hey, it’s raining torrents. Put away your golf clubs.

Across the country, from Alaska to New Jersey and Florida to Colorado, 2010 politics is being shaped by the revolt against Obama’s radical agenda and the new debt and taxes that will be needed to finance that agenda. Yet in state after state, Republican Party officials have tried to play it safe, tried to stick to tried-and-true formulas and tried to avoid any close association with the grassroots revolt. That is a huge mistake.

The 2010 election is not about any local issue or any local set of policies. It’s a referendum on one question. That question is whether or not we will remain a constitutional republic with a government limited by the rule of law.

The Republican Party can take sides and lead a new revolution, or it can try to play it safe and hope to reap the benefits of an anti-Democrat tide. Candidates need to make a choice, a choice to be bold and forthright or a choice to play it safe.

When the Republican Party offers a nominee who chooses business-as-usual, who will not align openly with the revolt against Obama’s agenda by making concrete commitments on policies and principles, or a candidate with a record of lies and evasions, citizens are justified in rejecting that choice.

In an earlier time and under ordinary circumstances, it was safe and sensible to think that “party trumps person.” If you voted Democrat you got one set of priorities, and if you voted Republican you got a different set of priorities, and the name of the candidate did not matter that much. Those days are over.

Voters today are judging candidates by their character, their principles and their commitments, not their party labels. In some states, the Republican Party is moving forward in tune with the grassroots revolt against leviathan government. In others, it still allows a small group of “party elders” to pick candidates and establish campaign themes and priorities.

In Colorado, that “father knows best” way of running the Republican Party has brought nothing but chaos and disenchantment. Following the Aug. 10 primary, the Colorado Republican Party is saddled with a gubernatorial nominee who is a proven liar and fraud, a man whose early tea-party support has now evaporated. That’s why I am running for governor of Colorado on the American Constitution Party ticket.

But the crisis in the Republican Party goes beyond any one state or candidate. It is a sickness that can only be cured by a transfusion of new blood, with candidates of strong character who are openly committed to a repeal of Obamacare, a rollback of federal intrusions into state sovereignty and protection of our borders against illegal immigration. Where that platform is adopted, insurgent Republicans are winning elections. Where candidates depend on a party label alone to win voters’ support, they will fail.

Will we see a Republican tide in November that sweeps conservatives into control of Congress and a dozen statehouses? That depends on how clearly and boldly the Republican message is presented. It is clear that the Obama tsunami has crested and is receding – but that is due not to the leadership of the Republican Party but to the vigilance and activism of ordinary citizens.

Whether the elections will bring a new direction to government or only a new set of faces is still an open question.

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