Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has written in this space before that he’s not much of a “Tea Party” type of person. He considers himself a conservative. He further considers that he is likely in agreement (in broadest principles) with many of the overarching ideas espoused by the Tea Party movement.
But honestly, he thinks that the movement is going a bit far.
The requirement to which your Maximum Leader objects the most is the one calling for ideologocial purity. Purity in a political movement is counter-productive in this and most times throughout US history. (This is made worse by the fact that in many cases the ideology espoused by many in the Tea Party movement just isn’t consistent in the best case, and just completely ignorant in the worst case.) Your Maximum Leader also isn’t thrilled with many candidates running under the banner of the Tea Party.
So let us get a few things out of the way… Your Maximum Leader hasn’t directly supported any Tea Party candidate. Frankly he has no reason to. He is represented in Congress by Rob Wittman. Congressman Whittman is a great guy personally and is perfectly conservative enough for your Maximum Leader. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t spend a lot of time going around actively supporting candidates who have no connection directly to him. (Although he is still very interested in politics in the aggregate.)
To your Maximum Leader the Tea Party movement has been something from which he has felt detached and more than a little bit disturbed by. He is generally suspicious of any populist movement of any ideological stripe. Anger is not his favorite emotion in politics. Certainly anger and fear are the most powerful of political motivators in our country. That said your Maximum Leader isn’t all that comfortable with emotion being the major motivator in politics. (NB: This is not to say that your Maximum Leader doesn’t like intrigue, backbiting and grudges. He does. But he doesn’t want voters to be overly emotional that just makes them more crazy than normal. Emotional voters - bad. Politicians being politicians - normal and sometimes good and fun.)
So… What about the Tea Party victory of the moment? Let your Maximum Leader discourse for a moment on Christine O’Donnell. Let him start with the good stuff. Speaking as an objectifying man, she is cute. She’s a hell of a lot better looking than Mike Castle that’s for sure. (NB: Your Maximum Leader has met Mike Castle in the distant past. At the time Castle was Governor of Delaware. And he should also add that he seems to remember then-Gov Castle having a rather hot girlfriend. Your Maximum Leader only mentions this because apparently some people were rumoring recently that Castle was gay. Take that for what it is worth.) And being cute certainly must count for something. Insofar as her politics go, your Maximum Leader can’t say anything good or bad about her. Other than knowing that she was supported by the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin there doesn’t seem to be much written about her politics.
Except the stuff about abortion (she’s against it - so is your Maximum Leader by the way), masturbation (she’s against it - your Maximum Leader doesn’t know why masturbation might be a political issue - but insomuch as it is political he’s for it) and calling President Obama anti-American your Maximum Leader doesn’t know much about her politics. Again, like with the Tea Party at large, he suspects that he would likely agree with lots of her politics if he knew what they were. (Then again, like the Tea Party at large, the devil is in the details.)
She was nominated as the Republican candidate for Senate twice before. So apparently much opposition to her is recent. It is fine for her to be a sacraficial lamb before the campaigning of (now Vice-President) Joe Biden but it is too much for her to compete for a seat that is now open.
She won the primary fair and square. She won it in the only way she could. She tapped into voter anger and pushed the buttons that needed to be pushed. She’s played by the rules and won according to how the rules are played.
But there is the question of should she have run against Castle in the first place. This is the heart of what your Maximum Leader has to say on this.
Okay… Is Mike Castle a RINO? Is he a dreaded Republican in name only? No. He is a Republican. Is Mike Castle a conservative? No he is not. Your Maximum Leader realizes that Republicans tend to be more conservative than Democrats. But since we only have two political parties in this country they both need to be pretty big tents (to use a cliche). If one attempts to purify one of the parties you are left with a small rump party that ceases to be viable long-term.
Let us go back to the situation in Delaware. Is Delaware a particularly conservative leaning state? No. If it was would they have elected Joe Biden for all those years? Why has Mike Castle been so successful in Delaware? He’s been successful because he is in touch with the people he has represented for so many years. Mike Castle was the Republican that was able to appeal to the people of Delaware. Could conservatives count on the Mike Castle vote 100% of the time? No they could not. Could conservatives count on Mike Castle’s vote 50% of the time. Sure they could. Could conservatives count on Joe Biden’s vote 50% of the time? Nope. Could conservatives count on Joe Biden’s vote 10% of the time? Probably not.
So let us see where we are now. Christine O’Donnell might well win the race in November. Who knows. She won a primary “against the odds.” So if she can pull out one more win this year that would be great. If she wins in November your Maximum Leader will eat his words and state that nominating her wasn’t a mistake.
But let us say that history has not changed and Delaware is still what it has been for decades, a pretty safely Democratic state, and that Christine O’Donnell is beaten by a relative nobody on the Democratic side. Then what? What if Delaware was the difference between Republicans running the Senate or Democrats retaining control? In that situation would it not have been better to have Mike Castle there than in enforced retirement? As far as your Maximum Leader is concerned, the answer to that question is yes. Better to have Castle than nothing.
But for many Tea Party advocates it is better to have nothing than something. That is very disturbing.
Many years ago your Maximum Leader was an intern on Capitol Hill. And in his lowly position he had occasion to run into Lee Atwater and Mary Matalin and a host of other late 1980s early 1990s political guru types. At one point Lee Atwater said to a bunch of us interns that generally speaking 40% of Americans were always going to vote Democrat and 40% were always going to vote Republican. Both parties were fighting over about 11% of the electorate. Now Atwater was speaking about national races and speaking in the aggregate. But there is a basic truth here that many in the Tea Party movement don’t seem to get…
Let us say that those evenly split 80% of Americans were not just Democrats and Republicans. Let us instead think of them as Liberals and Conservatives. Those numbers are pretty hard and fast. Your just not going to change the mind of anyone in that 80%. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to. And in your Maximum Leader’s opinion that is just what the Tea Party movement activists are trying to do. It isn’t that the Tea Partiers are fighting in a meaningful way to win over the minds of the middle 20%. They are trying to make sure that the only people on their side are the ones that completely agree with them.
Your Maximum Leader thinks that it is unlikely that O’Donnell will win in November. She might, but it is unlikely. With Delaware remaining safely in Democratic hands it becomes less likely that Republicans (conservative ones as well as not so conservative ones) will take control of the Senate. If the Senate stays Democratically controlled it is much less likely that the Tea Partiers will get their (purported) wish, namely the opportunity to stop President Obama’s agenda.
So the question seems to be are the Tea Partiers looking to win, or just to make sure only the kids they want to play get to play? At this point your Maximum Leader thinks that the primary objective of Tea Party activists is to take control of the Republican party where ever they are able, regardless of being able to actually beat the man who they believe is ruining the country.
Sure some Tea Party supported candidates are going to win this fall (your Maximum Leader thinks Rand “Aqua Buddha” Paul will likely win in KY and it seems that Sharon Angle might actually beat Harry Reid in NV). It will be interesting to see how the Tea Party candidates will actually govern. Your Maximum Leader suspects that they will be a pain in the arse to everyone of all political stripes. We’ll see on that.