Tea Party: Fighting to Stay Relevant
It’s official. The Tea Party is starting to lose its luster. Polls are showing that Milton Wolf and Matt Bevin, backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and Madison Project, are set to lose by high double digits to Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). And we’ve all heard about the beat down given to Tea Party candidates in Texas by mainstream Republican Senator John Cornyn.
And with a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal national poll showing that 41 percent of people have a negative view of the Tea Party, compared with 23 % positive (still way too high in my opinion), it is safe to say that the newness factor has worn off and the Tea Party will need to regroup in order to actually start winning. Let’s be honest. When the only person/group with a higher negative percentage polling is Vladimir Putin, one would think it would be time to re-strategize and stop running bafoons as candidates.
That’s not to say that the party hasn’t had its share of success. Matt Salmon, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash, Mike Lee are all examples of Tea Party members who have won elections. But the blubber-gaining freshman days of 2010 are long gone; now, it’s about protecting the candidates currently in office, while trying to change the same message that got these guys into office. Because let’s face it, while the rebel rising, Sarah Palinesque voice is endlessly entertaining, is it really taken seriously?
Even when you look at a Brookings Institution Project that shows that the Tea Party is supplying most of the candidates that are challenging incumbent Republicans, you still think ok yes, but how many of them are actually going to win? And not even win, how many of these candidates are going to get the necessary funding to even have a shot at winning. With the mainstream Republican Party trying to distance themselves from the Tea Party movement, even the anti-establishment is going to need a seven figure check every now and then in order to survive.
And the low-hanging fruit that was so readily available in 2010 is not so available now. The days of spouting conspiracy theories, supporting the disuse of vaccines, and soccer mom antics are behind them if they want to start winning again. And if these candidates desire to have a chance against Democrats, it is probably for the best. The Democratic Party understands the value of kitchen table talk; you leave it at the kitchen table. I’m positive there are lots of crazies in that party too, but they never let you know about it. A lesson from which the Tea Party could stand a lot to learn.