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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's So Bad About a Political Civil War

All we're hearing today is how Christine O'Donnell's election is yet another example of the Tea Party eating its own and subverting electable candidates in favor of fringe candidates. By so doing, the movement is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

This is curious. After, whether you're a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, one thing is certain. You are unhappy with D.C. politicians. You're unhappy with the status quo. You're unhappy with the establishment.

So, what does the Tea Party movement do? It challenges all that. More often than not it wins. Isn't that a good thing? Isn't the Republican Party doing exactly what the voters are demanding and purging itself of the political class that caused the cynicism. In the process, we've seen voter turnout boom, excitement increase, and fresh faces have shown up.

Furthermore, it's created a well needed debate over the future of the party. Meanwhile, facing an unprecedented electoral disaster, what has the Democratic party done? It's reelected, almost entirely, the exact same folks. Even the man facing a series of ethics violations, Charlie Rangel, got nominated.

So, the voters are disgusted with career politicians, the status quo, and the establishment. The Republicans have responded by a full out war over all this in the primaries and the Democrats have done nothing. Yet, if you read some so called smart people, it's the Republicans with the problems.

Republicans in Delaware faced a very simple choice in Tuesday's primary: Did they want to win Joe Biden's old Senate seat in November, or did they want to lose it?

They went with the latter option, and if that really surprises you, then you haven't been paying close enough attention to Republican Party politics in the age of Obama.

The 2008 election, the second straight election in which it suffered a crippling national defeat, left the Republican Party drained of its hangers-on -- less ideological voters who had, in the past, broadly agreed with the party's philosophy, even if they dissented on individual issues. What was left was an angry, restive base that resented (and even feared) Barack Obama and that believed the GOP had lost power because it hadn't been conservative enough. This base quickly found a catchy name -- the Tea Party movement -- and dedicated itself to cleansing from the GOP's ranks politicians who reminded them of the party's pre-2008 spirit.

So, Republicans use the primaries to respond to all the concerns of the voters and the Democrats do nothing, and it's the Republicans that have the problems.


AG said...

I don't think you can say the Democrats did nothing. They went all out to stop Blanche Lincoln and Michael Bennet. They knocked off Arlen Specter and Chris Dodd. The Republicans have done a better job of forcing turnover among their House candidates but its easy to do that when you're not trying to beat incumbents which the Democrats have a lot of.

There's nothing wrong with purging your party leadership after what we've just been through and how complicit they all were.

Ralph Nader probably said it best when he said "the problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is that what you get is still evil."

mike volpe said...

Arlen Spector was a Republican and so if anything the Reps purged him and the Dems didn't want him.

Michael Bennet was recently appointed. I'm not sure that this is the example you'd want. Blanche Lincoln still won.

Dodd was scandal ridden and didn't run, that's one.

I don't think that's exactly a purge. When you take on the likes of Russ Feingold and Boxer, that's a purge.

AG said...

The Democrats purging Barbra Boxer and Russ Feingold would be like the Republicans purging Jim Demint and Tom Coburn.

As far as Specter, the Democratic leadership brokered a deal to get him to switch parties and then tried to clear the primary field for him. That the voters rejected him regardless is what I'd call a textbook example of a purge.

As far as Lincoln, she still won but that didn't mean they didn't try to replace her. Not all the tea party candidates won, either. It doesn't look like Lamongtane won in New Hampshire.

mike volpe said...

Or like purging Bob Bennet and Arlen Spector.

Yes, the Tea Parties didn't win everywhere but they did win and that's because they challenged in a lot of places. The reason you are fixated on Lincoln is because that's the only place Democrats challenged.

AG said...

I also mentioned Michael Bennet because he was an appointee who, like Lincoln, supports repealing the Estate Tax. And up until Andrew Romanoff entered the race he opposed a health care Public Option.

And if you're going to claim credit for purging Arlen Specter, the the Democrats gain credit for purging Chris Dodd. Neither lost at the hands of voters so much as they pre-emptively jumped because they knew they couldn't win. Specter was an opportunist, Dodd was a banking lobbyist masquerading as a Senator. I wonder how many extra zeroes his paycheck will have if he can kill Elizabeth Warren's nomination.

mike volpe said...

I always gave the Dems credit for removing Dodd, though that was pretty obvious.

Again, Bennet is an appointee, hardly a political veteran and he won. Lincoln also won.

Again, that's not revolutionary the way we're seeing it in the Republican party.