Pundits coast-to-coast are trying to read the tea leaves from our just completed primary election season. Most are giving the Tea Party folks a great deal of credit. Comes now a small voice saying “Maybe a little, but not so much.”
Picture an arrow. To me, those folks are the tip on that arrow. The shaft, if you will, the far larger part, is the rest of us angry folk. Like me. And maybe you. Not members of their band. Not out in the streets. But mad, too.
I’ve been angry for a long time about gridlock in congress, some of the political hacks, immoral cretins and intellectually-challenged in that institution, spiraling national debt, ineffectiveness of the two main political parties, government becoming an obstacle to progress rather than an aid. And more. Damned mad! But, like most of us, I’m not out in the streets.
The only credit I’m willing to give the astroturf group is I think they inspired some of the disaffected to cast some “no” votes to show our dissatisfaction. You can do that in primaries; not in general elections.
Many of the candidates they put up or endorsed were unqualified, fringe-thinking naysayers. Some, most notably in the Delaware senate race and the New York governor’s contest, were people of questionable character and demonstrated dishonesty. Not people you want as neighbors much less in government service at any level.
The Tea Party … and “party” certainly isn’t accurate … is like symptoms of the flu; the runny nose and upset stomach. The actual ailment … the real sickness … is billionaires like the Koch brothers, the Hunt family and others who are bankrolling the operation. They want something. Actually, several somethings. They want major amendments to our constitution to disallow babies born here to be citizens. And to put election of U.S. Senate members in the hands of state legislators where the process can be more controlled and the senators handpicked for their agreeable philosophy. Or lack of one. They want direct access. They want control of these and other issues.
The street marchers are quick to say they pay no dues, aren’t asked for contributions and write no checks to the “movement.” They also don’t ask who does. Who pays the millions for supporting their candidates? Who pays the millions in advertising? Who pays for the three Prevost buses touring the country at a cost of more than million each? Who picks up the tab for leaders and various support staffs in several states and nationally? Who pays the bills? And why? See paragraph above.
The irony here is the moneyed guys are Republicans. Bred and born. Right wing Republicans. But Republicans nonetheless. And it appears so far the main casualty of these Tea Party “victories” is … the Grand Old Party. In their search for philosophical purity, primary casualties have been mostly Republicans who couldn’t pass the litmus test du jour.
Come the November general election, if Democrats and disaffected moderate Republicans who’ve had a belly full of the fringy purists show up at the polls, those primary “winners” are going to be sent home. Not to Washington.
These “victories” at the polls could also be a warning to whatever moderates may be left in the G-O-P to now assess whether their party needs saving or whether there’s any party left to save. The short term wins could spark the purist element to form another party or those moderates left to create one of their own. Somehow I don’t see lifelong, respectable Republicans like Colin Powell or Robert Gates or Warren Rudman or George H.W. Bush being comfortable with the likes of Rand Paul, Shirley Angell, Christine O’Donnell, Mark Rubio, et all.
Third political parties are talked about all the time. In recent years, Ross Perot came closer than anyone to pulling disaffected folks together to offer an alternative. But these primary outcomes could be the catalyst needed to put some heat under more mainstream thinkers who don’t want the fringe association. And who, moreover, recognize that extreme elements never sustain themselves over the long haul because of the built-in paranoia.
This country needs … must have … a healthy, functioning two-party political system. We don’t have that now. The “victors” in these primaries cannot go to Congress and make it work. If we allow it, gridlock will turn to concrete. We will be in real danger.