The Washington Post, in its infinite wisdom decided to just publish a piece that attempts to make the case that the Tea Party is in turmoil and that their candidates are not doing as well as they hoped. As Mark Twain once said, ‘the reports of (its) death are greatly exaggerated.”
In the story, the writer, Amy Gardner, makes her claim based upon some bits of information that are indeed interesting. She begins by saying that tea party leaders were claiming, soon after the Nevada Senate primary Tuesday night, that Sharron Angle may not be the optimal candidate to bring down Harry Reid. She neglects to emphasize that Angle did win, though, against two establishment candidates in a highly contested race.
She then points out that in two Virginia House contests, because the Tea Party could not agree on a candidate, the establishment contender won. Well, let’s think about this for a second. Angle’s victory is not highly regarded because the establishment split its votes. In the two Virginia races, the Tea Party candidates were minimized because they couldn’t unify behind a single candidate.
She then cites a number of Tea Party ‘leaders’ who complained that they were unable to get candidates to drop out and support the one that the leaders approved of. Apparently, these self-appointed leaders would rather that the Tea Party just be another interest group that gets subsumed within the Republican Party, and finds its hopes dashed of changing the landscape of the nation’s political scene.
Well, let’s try to figure out why the Tea Party shouldn’t try to find one size fits all candidates. The way I see it, there are two main threads in the movement, the paleo-conservative/libertarian branch perhaps best exemplified by Ron Paul, and the social-conservative/neo-conservative wing of which Sarah Palin is the most noted adherent. Exactly what’s wrong with this, if you’re trying to set up a national party? Does anyone really believe that either of the two Maine senators could get elected in the Deep South? How about electing David Vitter in California? A function of a two party system is that both political parties can’t just have one basic ideology; they must take in as many people as possible, since the objective of a political party is to win elections, and elections, for every office but one, are regional.
The Tea Party movement, much like the Democrats and the Republicans, share a common value. Maybe the problem for the Washington Post and the rest of the Beltway crowd is that this value is not one that they believe in. Therefore, the Beltway finds the need to paint this outsider group as a bunch of ineffective loons. I generally don’t much care about the timing of an article in a newspaper, even one with such a vaunted reputation as the Post.
But maybe, it could have found a more opportune time to print this article. Let’s see, the Tea Party humiliated a lion of the establishment in Utah a few weeks ago. Then, on Tuesday, it won the Nevada Senate race. Also, last week, Representative Bob Inglis of South Carolina lost his bid to be re-nominated, and must face a runoff. Most importantly, Nikki Haley so clearly defeated the establishment candidates, and got so close to 50% that even the establishment is urging the other contender to drop out prior to the runoff for governor of South Carolina. If (or should we say when) she becomes governor, she will inherit one of the most important kingmaker spots in the party since the first Republican primary in 2012 that anyone cares about is in that state.