Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Steep Price of a Tea Party Free Lunch

Will the last of the primary season mark the end of an electoral temper tantrum or just a step on the way to a bigger one in November?

Light bulbs are going on for traditional Republicans who, after feasting on opinion polls and relishing a takeover of both houses of Congress, are beginning to see the steep price of a Tea Party free lunch.

On Fox News, conservative intellectual Charles Krauthammer smacks down Sarah Palin's backing of a Delaware Tea Party Senate candidate, calling it "disruptive and capricious. Bill Buckley had a rule that he always supported the most conservative candidate who was electable, otherwise the vote is simply self-indulgence."

But GOP alarm goes beyond electability in November. Even in victories, what will they have in new officeholders coming in on a tide of anger, with no legislative experience and only fervent promises to block government and dismantle it?

"If the current Republican Party regards every new bit of government action as a step on the road to serfdom," predicts David Brooks, "then the party will be taking this long, mainstream American tradition and exiling it from the G.O.P."

In such a know-nothing tide, Brooks foresees political, fiscal, policy and even intellectual tragedies: "Conservatism is supposed to be nonideological and context-driven. If all government action is automatically dismissed as quasi socialist, then there is no need to think. A pall of dogmatism will settle over the right."

Voting purely on emotion of any kind has a wasteful and destructive history. Liberals who relish the conservatives' dilemma this time may want to remember how in 2000 their idealistic ballots for Ralph Nader put George W. Bush into the White House.

And we all know how well that worked out for America.

Update: The "unelectable" Republican has won the Delaware Senate nomination, setting up a test for how strong the Tea Party brew will be in November, when the voting goes beyond the battle for the GOP's soul. Democrats would be well-advised to take nothing for granted in this topsy-turvy year

1 comment:

RalfW said...

I agree with what you say, and, current GOP members in relatively safe seats will look at what happened to Castle and say "no thanks" when they get tapped for an open seat in the Senate or a move up from state to federal office, etc.

As long as the Tea Party is ready to attack form the right, even average-conservative Republicans will not be eager to take any risks.