The performance of the Tea Party in the 2010 midterm elections proves that when the people are fed up, their voices will be heard. Two races in particular demonstrate this point.
The first is the race between Harry Reid, incumbent in Nevada, and challenger Sharron Angle. While pundits around the country will simply state that Sharron Angle cost the GOP a Senate seat, a closer examination should occur.
Harry Reid was Senate Majority Leader, and has been a senator since 1986. In addition to this, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal article, he enjoyed strong support from the president of the AFL-CIO Union, Richard Trumka, who personally appeared at a rally on Oct. 26. His coffers were full. Despite such positive influences, as late as Oct. 29, Reid was trailing in the following polls: Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.
Angle’s campaign — partially fueled by anti-incumbent fever, partially fueled by the grassroots effort of the Tea Party — made the Nevada Senate race, just that – a race. Even the NY Times headlined, “Harry Reid Can’t Shake Tea Party’s Angle.” While Sharron Angle ultimately lost, the lesson is learned: political neophytes have a shot in elections. Getting on the ballot was only enabled by having the backing of the Tea Party.
The second race that demonstrated the influence of the Tea Party involved Rand Paul and Jack Conway to fill the Senate seat of retiring Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.
Paul targeted his first foe in the primaries, Terry Grayson, whom Paul’s campaign identified as a career politician. This was in stark contrast to a career doctor, who, through anti-insider fever, capitalized on his support of the Tea Party. Although Paul worked tirelessly during his father’s failed presidential campaign, he continually distanced himself by stating he is not a career politician.
While several other factors could be examined, the bottom line is that Rand Paul formed an early coalition of citizens who wanted a taste of something different, specifically Tea Partiers. Paul offered that option, as a long-time critic of taxes, as a small business owner, as a doctor, and as a political outsider. This led to his victory in Kentucky.
Perhaps what is most often overlooked among the Tea Party-supported candidates is the simple desire to have a non-politician in office. What may be overlooked is that these candidates and their supporters simply desire a more nostalgic approach to government: less is more; and it’s a service you are providing, not a lifelong job.
The message people should be hearing concerning Tea Party groups has nothing to do with supposed racism, but all to do with getting back to the basics, and the idea that the Founding Fathers had no desire for such an intrusive government. Once people begin to understand that reasoning, they will also understand the Tea Party does not appear to be a one-hit-wonder.
While there were mixed results on Election Day, the results will continue to fuel grassroots efforts among both party lines as the Tea Party candidates demonstrated that, at the very minimum, your voice will be heard.