TEA Party Candidates Fight for the Soul of the Republican Party
Two weeks out from Go Time and the Grand Old Party’s pre-hatched chickens have already been accounted for. Many in the know, including this space, are predicting a nearly 60-seat Republican push in the House and a fair challenge to the Senate. All shapes, sizes and ideologies from the entrenched to the noteworthy to the outright wacky will soon regain the seat of power frittered away in 2006 under a torrent of malfeasance, hubris and warmongering. But today’s power vacuum is large and unforgiving, doubtless more so than in several cycles, and certainly as distinct as any political season.
This is blood sport now, and not just in the competition or the winning, but the governing, which is soon in coming and shall land hard on those grasping at the brass ring. The District is now a dark place offering little comfort, less reverence, and no confidence. The American voter is angry and spiteful and has thrown all modes of caution to the breeze, casting its lot with anything that doesn’t reek of the “power base.” And so the axiom beware of what you wish for is in effect and will begin in earnest this January. That’s when the right-leaning citizenry will expect a boatload of shifting, not unlike what the left experienced in 2008, which now appears to them as something of an empty sandbag.
It is a sandbag that will be quick to refill if what is transpiring inside the Republican Party has any resonance. Those members ignoring the hardcore fiscal conservatism and strict constructionist waters boiling below the surface of business-as-usual, special interest neo-cons and corporate lackeys will find an ideological civil war on their hands, the results of which may well usher in an Obama second term or, if there is any justice, a significant third party emergence.
But the severe lack of justice in matters of politics and fanciful dreams of a tangible, viable, winnable third party in American politics is the talk of madness. And though we revel in reams of madness here, we’ll sidestep the big gorilla this time to discuss the future of the party that is about to take control of the legislative branch of our federal government, which also means the chairing of every major committee, not to mention a boatload of governorships across the land.
Soon the Republican Party, the latest configuration of which presided over the absolute cold-blooded destruction of modern conservatism with aggressive nation building, unchecked federal spending and illegal warrant-less wiretapping will be back in business. The question for many of its lifers, whether soon-to-be House Speaker, John Boehner or the prehistoric John McCain, is what party will it be? Or more to the point: Whose party?
It is becoming painfully apparent that despite mounds of corporate money begged for and collected by spin-master, Karl Rove, which secretly fills the coffers of the so-called populist anti-elitist TEA Partiers, there remains a voter-base groundswell of candidates with neither a political resume nor a lick of allegiance to the Republican brand. To them Ronald Reagan was a spendthrift appeaser, never mind G.W. Bush, whose abhorrent fiscal incontinence led to what they deem a Democratic-led Socialist takeover of the United States.
In more direct terms, things will go from bad to worse for Democrats in November, but by next summer there could be a complete implosion inside the victorious Republican camp.
Take for instance the very telling comment by Colorado TEA Party Republican candidate for senate. “The freshman class will challenge the status quo in the Republican conference,” blustered a proud and motivated Ken Buck, a rabble-rousing bigot who believes homosexuality is akin to alcoholism. But being a dumbass is not what has landed Buck in the fight of his political life against embattled incumbent Democrat, Michael Bennett. He has stated publicly on more than one occasion that given the chance he would personally gut the modern Republican Party.
But even those who don’t openly mock Buck as a simpleton think his bark is far worse than his bite, which cannot be said for TEA Party original, Rand Paul, whose rise as the son of the only bonafide conservative candidate in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections to Libertarian poster boy should scare the crap out of any Republican. Paul, much like his father, believes unequivocally that the party has turned on its principles by kowtowing to religious and social marauders. His primary victory speech, loaded with populist rhetoric, became something of a rallying cry for many TEA Party independents that find the Christian Right and Family Matters crowd stupid and corruptible.
It is only fitting that Paul’s opponent is challenging his Christian beliefs.
Democrat Jack Conway, the present Kentucky attorney general, is a soulless empty suit, whose vacuous smile is direct from central casting’s search for slimy politician type who would gladly sell his grandmother to the Arabs for a single vote. His desperate attempt to paint Paul as a sadomasochistic pagan may be merely prelude to what the traditional wing of his party might unleash upon his election.
Then there is the curious case of Sharron Angle, whose tight battle with the great symbol of tax-and-spend Liberalism run amok, Harry Reid in Nevada has shook the core of the party. No one is quite sure how someone as wildly unpopular as Reid, who would be fortunate to have his parking validated in Reno these days, could be within the margin of error in any poll worth noting.
The problem for Angle has turned out to be Angle. She is a gaff machine worthy of Joe Biden and falls into the bizarre world of the lovable but barely coherent made popular in recent American folklore by queen dullard Sarah Palin and turned into an art form by Delaware senate candidate, Christine O’Donnell. Palin, by the way, has already made several dire warnings that Republicans had better start kissing TEA Party ass or “it is through,” while O’Donnell has now gone to the press bemoaning her lack of vocal and most importantly financial support from the party.
O’Donnell told ABC News this week, “We’re hoping that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will help us, but it’s two and a half weeks left and they’re not.” O’Donnell, Palin and Angle, not unlike their Republican sisterhood, California’s Carly Fiorina, who has been forced to go outside the party and dump her own considerable coffers into the race, and Connecticut’s Linda McMahon, now having “loaned” over $40 million of her own funds to her campaign, have caused more than a stir within the party. Many Reagan and Bush stalwarts have denounced their candidacy, despite a strong showing among independents and the conservative base. Coupled with the paucity of financial support from Republicans, one can only deduct a sense of tension on where the party is headed.
But whether it is over a cliff or the foundation of an unchecked movement, there is little argument it is the fringe, the core, or the new Republicans that have the strongest voice in this the 2010 mid-term elections. In a time when the opposition’s uprising historically rests with a sitting president’s record, it may turn out to be a referendum on Right Wing political power.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art and Trailing Jesus.