I find the disgust and disdain toward the Tea Party within Republican circles pretty astonishing given what we witnessed in 2010. In fact, arguably, Speaker Boehner might still be Congressman Boehner if it weren’t for the grassroots uprising of the Tea Party in 2009 and 2010. Yet, in the same way the Republican National Committee attempted to fully embrace the grassroots in 2010, they’re making every effort in 2014 to sweep them under the rug.
Let’s just cut this down to brass tacks, shall we? The establishment is concerned that too many Tea Party-Republicans are far too green, in the amateur sense, to be running on the national stage in a US Senate campaign. They’ll point to Senate seats lost in 2010 as their example of this and they’d be, by and large, mostly correct. There were some unseasoned candidates who lost seats that could have been winnable. Names like Sharron Angle, Todd Akin and Christine O’Donnell come to mind. All “Tea Party” candidates who lost Senate seats that should have been winnable by Republicans.
I don’t discount the criticisms that those candidates were flawed, in some way, which presented them challenges in their respective races. However, are we pretending that every candidate isn’t flawed in some way? Just examine 2012 with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee. The issue of Obamacare was largely off the table. Why? Because Mitt Romney passed a health care plan in Massachusetts that was, in fact, the blueprint for Obamacare at a national level. Hard to argue against something when it was one of your signature achievements at your previous job.
Being the reasonable person that I am, I fully supported and advocated for Mitt Romney’s victory in 2012 despite several misgivings and disagreements with some of his policies and lack of standing on some key issues. In my opinion, he was far too flawed to be carrying the mantle against President Obama but he won the primary and history is history.
I felt similarly toward my own Congressman, Representative Frank Wolf during the last several years. Is he the candidate I would pick in a perfect world? No. He is, however, a honest man with good intentions and I’d much rather have him holding that seat than a left-wing radical progressive usurping my liberties. I’ve sent Mr. Wolf many a disgruntled email as a constituent but I did not ever go out of my way to advocate against him during election season nor run down his character with lies and slander.
I’d be more willing to listen to the criticisms of Karl Rove and others within the establishment if they were to take an equally reasonable position with candidates they see as flawed or too conservative. Think of it as a quid pro quo for candidates. I accept some of your “bad” candidates if you accept some of my “bad” candidates.
If that balance can be reached between the grassroots and establishment, I think we might be able to get somewhere. Sadly, I fully expect to see Karl Rove on Fox News during the next 10 months with a white board explaining why some particular “Tea Party” Republican candidate just can’t win the general election because of X, Y, Z.
His prediction will be a self-fulfilling prophecy while he supplies the media with talking points and reasons to write stories about how a particular candidate is so out of the mainstream, even bigwigs in his/her own party think he/she is unfit to hold the office.
As a result, I’m not sure what will happen in the 2014 midterms. Right now, Obamacare is the winning issue for Republicans and maybe they can ride that wave to November. However, I’d argue that a war between the establishment and the Tea Party will leave political casualties at the ballot box, and I’m not talking About Democrats.