Delaware Tea Party Win Rattles Democrats and Republicans
My internet browser home page opened up today on Yahoo where the first headline I saw was: “GOP Dream Derailed by Tea Party.”
That’s the narrative which right now seems to have swallowed early morning media. On Fox News, Karl Rove was his plain-speaking self while commenting upon Delaware’s Tea Party candidate, Christine O’Donnell, who defeated Republican primary opponent Mike Castle. Underscoring today’s political theme is that O’Donnell won by such a wide margin – 53.1% to 46.9 for Castle.
Rove is ruffled at the prospect of the O’Donnell win because he believes that Mike Castle was the GOP’s best and only prospect for taking Joe Biden’s vacated Delaware senate seat.
“We were looking to gain 8 to 9 seats and now we’re looking at 6 or 7.”
The surprising power of Tea Party candidates was apparent also in victory of gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino who won over Rick Lazio, and on the lead Kelly Ayotte has in New Hampshire over opponent Ovide LaMontagne. But it is the O’Donnell victory which is catching most of the flak from all sides. Flak comes from the GOP side as the Delaware State Republican Party chairman said the party wouldn’t be offering support to O’Donnell.
With the exception of MSNBC pundit Pat Buchanan, who said the GOP should bring O’Donnell into the tent, most pundits seemed to feel that the GOP statement of non-support was the kill shot for GOP hopes. The rest of the MSNBC crew licked their lips and profusely slobbered.
The sub-plot to this story, of course, is that Democrats are cheering O’Donnell’s victory. However, the political calculation that Tea Party victories strengthen the Democrats’ chances of maintaining large majorities may be overstated. Nobody knows how many Democrats have joined Tea Party groups but numbers could be significant.
People are sick of the same old same old. If they weren’t, recently unknown Sharon Angle would not be running neck and neck with long-time incumbent Harry Reid in Nevada.
As catastrophic weather events often defy our attempts at limiting damage, so is the Tea Party phenomenon a wave which dashes upon all shores. At this late date, a better question to ask might be: “Why are these Tea Party candidates winning?”
The short answer is voter anger. While politicians fiddle, working and unemployed Americans feel they are being pushed into hell in a hand basket. Cap-and-trade, runaway stimulus, Obamacare, and the entrenched entitlement arrogance of a privileged political class have caused an outbreak of popular resistance that hasn’t been seen for a long time.
Rush Limbaugh, with his huge audience, may have given O’Donnell’s candidacy a boost in the last days of the campaign, though he acknowledged O’Donnell’s financial problems. What are the venial sins of a fresh, attractive, somewhat guileless, conservative face when compared to the hideous capital sins of massive social and fiscal engineering coming out of Washington? Mike Castle voted for Obama’s stimulus bill and for cap-and-trade, Limbaugh told his listeners. For many, that would be enough reason for them to support O’Donnell.
The uninspired narrative which has the GOP going down as the Tea Party goes up may thrill media pundits, but will it hold up to reality? Perhaps it will, but it also depends on how you define victory in politics.
Defining it as the power you hold is a big mistake as Obama Democrats are finding out. The president’s popularity continues to drop precipitously as many Obama voters experience “buyer’s remorse.”
To many, it doesn’t seem fair that we have Obamacare in spite of the fact that 60 percent of Americans thought that now wasn’t the time and Obamacare wasn’t the bill. A similar opposition applied to the stimulus. People who were willing to admit that some stimulus was necessary, perceived most of it as reckless spending which hasn’t reduced unemployment. Many in the working middle class see current administration economic policy to be nothing more than a “transfer of wealth” along ideological lines.
While political commentators like to point to a nervous relationship between traditional Republicans and Tea Party candidates, there is also a worrisome chasm opening among Democrats. Perceiving the wave of voter anger at stimulus spending and the spectre of tax increases, centrist Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts.
This has alarmed Progressives like Markos Moulitsas. In a recent letter to his followers, The Daily Kos founder proclaimed his worries that “If progressive Democrats lose in November…Blue Dogs (traditional Democrats) will be declared the future of the Democratic Party.”
Internet group email communication from Daily Kos