High Tea

The results in last night’s primaries are being hailed as examples of the surging power of the “Tea Party,” as “Tea Party” candidates defeated establishment Republican candidates in a number of states.  I think the results are as much attributable to frustration with establishment candidates as to endorsement of any specific “Tea Party” platform.  The familiar names that were running in places like Delaware and New York have not gotten the job done in the past, so why not try somebody new?

The performance of “Tea Party” candidates in primaries may turn out to be a double-edged sword.  Because you are reaching out to select a new face, by definition you are getting someone who has been less vetted and less tested by prior political experience.  Who knows what skeletons may be found in the person’s closet, or what personality quirks may make the candidate less attractive in a general election?  On the other hand, I think voters are fed up with know-it-alls telling them that some candidates cannot win and they should settle for a compromise candidate who is “electable.”  I think many voters believe that, in this climate, no one really knows who is electable and who is not, and in any case they want their vote to send a message.  President Obama’s 2008 campaign showed that an energized, ready-for-a-change electorate can lift a political novice to victory  — and in many states 2010 will again be a year with an energized, ready-for-a-change electorate.

2 thoughts on “High Tea

    • I’ve never been to a “tea party” event or talked to a “tea party” advocate, but based on what I have read and seen in the media I’m not sure I would characterize them as “poisonous.” For the most part, I think they are just average citizens who have become very concerned with the direction in which our country is heading, primarily because of federal spending, budget deficits, and the continuing growth of government. They also are skeptical that the problem will be fixed by working through “establishment” candidates in the two political parties, and therefore they have decided to become personally involved through events that are organized outside of the parties and by supporting “outsider” candidates in Republican primaries. They are trying to send a message, and they are succeeding. We’ll find out in November whether a majority of Americans agree with their message.

      Peggy Noonan recently wrote an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the “tea party” movement that, I think, does a pretty good job of describing their perspective and frustration. The article is called Why It’s Time for the Tea Party. I recommend it if you want to get a better understanding of what is motivating these folks.

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