The lunatic fringe of the GOP aka the Tea Party, has painted itself into a corner with its flavor of extremist discourse. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person and it has apparently not escaped the notice of certain candidates put forward by the base.
It is not as if the Tea Party had anything like the momentum it pretends to. Despite their claims to represent the will of the American people, to be “real” Americans, they are very much a minority of the electorate.
The hard truth is that the base cannot elect anyone.
This should have become obvious with the results of the 2008 presidential elections. Though there are many conservatives (some conservatives even claim to outnumber liberals) another hard truth is that many conservatives are social liberals. Many of these people helped Barack Obama to office.
People like Sarah Palin can unite the base. The base loves her and she uses them with the same vigor to fill her pockets. It’s hard to say what she really believes, a person who once flirted with Alaskan secessionists now claiming to be a “real” American, and we can’t tell from what she reads because so far as she knows, she doesn’t even know what she reads.
The real point is that she is a lightning rod for the base. Her support can help get an extremist a victory in the primaries over more sober-minded and clear-sighted candidates. As has been noticed in some quarters, her ability to be a force multiplier in a general election is more questionable.
The hard truth is that the base cannot elect anyone.
There simply aren’t enough anti-intellectual, conservative religious, racist and bigoted voters to pass the lunatic agenda of the Tea Party. They can believe their own spin if they wish – some of them probably do – but even if you ignore facts the facts will still be there to bite you in the ass at the end of the day.
And that is the bleak future the Tea Party faces as the midterm elections loom.
Now remember, there was not exactly the expected rush on incumbents. There was no massively successful push to dominate even their own primaries. One notable example of Tea Party hopes, Scott Brown, turned out to be a rather decent and moderate fellow.
But the Tea Partiers are consistent in one respect, their disdain for inconvenient truths. They don’t talk about their failures, only their successes, even if they are only imaginary ones.
So what happens now with those who did manage to come out ahead in the GOP primaries? Do they moderate their extremist discourse to make themselves appealing to the majority of voters? Or do they stick to their “no compromise” principles and lose ignominiously?
They’ve painted themselves into a corner and it is difficult to see how they are going to get out of it.
Palin has no answers. She has led the charge on the “no compromise” front; she has praised herself as a “real” American outsider and somewhat more laughably as a maverick and she will have a difficult time offering meaningful support to people who are willing to compromise to get elected.
Some may not want her support. Though the base loves her, polls show that Americans as a whole are far less impressed. She is the force multiplier they looked for in the primaries but she will likely be a dead weight in the general elections. She turns off both the left and the center and I will say it again:
The hard truth is that the base can’t elect anyone.
There simply aren’t enough of them. They’re loud, but their bark is worse than their bite. Even a center-right media and a propaganda channel of their own cannot push the extremist GOP agenda to the front. Voters won’t buy it.
Liberals won’t buy it. Progressives won’t buy it. And most importantly, the conservatives’ own social liberals won’t buy it.
So what will the Tea Partiers do? Some of them have already sold out. As CNN reported the other day, Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has called for the dismantling of the Department of Education and the establishment of a nuclear waste dump at Yucca mountain. But her new website mentioned none of this.
She has also said that rape is “part of God’s plan” and that incest rape victims should make lemonade out of their incestual lemons. You have to wonder how much we’ll hear of these gems as the midterms approach. Will she be telling us then that for a 13-year-old who was raped by her father that abortion is out because “two wrongs don’t make a right”?
This is a measure of the disdain the Tea Party has for facts. When Harry Reid posted Angle’s previous site, her campaign sent a “cease and desist” letter to Reid’s people claiming that he was misrepresenting her views. It’s quite clear who is really misrepresenting Angle’s views – Angle herself.
Pity the poor Angle who whined that “Today, I actually softened because I’m being held accountable for every idle word.” Does that seem unreasonable to her, that the voter should be able to take her at her word? She seems to be complaining that she can’t lie and get away with it.
Rand Paul has run into trouble too. Yes, he is another sell-out to moderation. Its amazing willing the party of “no compromise” is to compromise when push comes to shove. They can spin all they want but they know, and we know, they don’t represent the American people. If they want to get elected they will have to pretend to be moderates even while producing highly exclusive sets of “10 Commandments” for the GOP to follow.
The ultimate message, if a bit muddled, seems to be, “If you’re not willing to live by these guidelines, you’re not a Republican – you’re a terrorist (aka in GOP discourse as anyone who is not a Republican) – unless you are up for election and you happen to be a Tea Party candidate.
Because these no-compromise compromisers while willing to take their thirty pieces of silver to get a cozy Washington office and all the attached perks aren’t willing to extent any mercy to moderate Republicans who are seen as compromisers. No sir.
That’s not the Tea Party way.
Unfortunately for the Tea Party, the Tea Party itself, with its extremist agenda, is not the American way.
The midterm elections will demonstrate this, because even if they win, they will have won by casting down their own principles.
Because the hard truth is that the base can’t elect anyone.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.