In the fall of 2010, Americans witnessed the birth of the Tea Party. Originally a grassroots phenomenon that was predicated largely on a revulsion against government spending and the economic malaise this country has experienced for the past four years, it proved effective at unseating the Democrats from their majority in the House that year, though the half dozen or so senatorial Tea Party candidates failed to win in the numbers necessary to take back the Senate.
That Tea Party platform is still with us, and in states all over the country, we’re seeing its renewed lease on life, as mainstream candidates from Texas to Connecticut, Florida to Michigan all are edging out their more traditional, mainstream establishment Republican candidates. In Connecticut yesterday, longtime Congressman Christopher Shays lost, and lost badly to failed Senate contender Linda Mcmahon, who lost (and lost badly) in 2010 to Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Kerry Bentivolio, another tea partier, defeated Nancy Cassis, a more mainstream candidate who staged the uphill battle to prevail in a write-in campaign, for the GOP nomination in Michigan’s 11th Congressional district. And in Texas, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst lost to the insurgent campaign of Ted Cruz, a former Texas State Solicitor General, and, you guessed it, Tea Partier.
The Tea Party formula worked, and it worked well in 2010. But, it didn’t work as well as it could have in a number of races, particularly statewide ones. Rep. Mike Castle, the at-large Congressman from Delaware, lost his primary to noted dingbat Christine O’Donnell. Castle had been the odds-on favorite to capture the Senate seat there, but Delaware didn’t care for O’Donnell. Democrats retained the seat. This scenario was played out in a variety of other states, including in Nevada and Connecticut.
The GOP, as it has been for some time now, is nominating the most ideologically ‘pure’ candidates that it can find. And while that message of ideological fervor resonated in 2010 with swing voters, I have a feeling that in the coming months, after nearly two years of Tea Party rhetoric that hasn’t managed to articulate a positive vision for the country, or managed to yield any concrete policy results, will soon start to look rather dog-eared. How this will translate at the polls this coming November is anyone’s guess, but the trajectory charted by the Tea Party two years ago is still going strong, and if anything, it will eventually, if not in this election, continue to push the GOP dangerously close towards the cliff of irrelevance in the coming years.