By Mr. Curmudgeon
You know the Tea Party is a political game-changer when the New York Times runs an Op-Ed by pointy-headed Ivy-League political scientists saying the country disapproves of the small-government grassroots movement.
“Given how much sway the Tea Party has among Republicans in Congress and those seeking the Republican presidential nomination, one might think the Tea Party is redefining mainstream American politics.
“But in fact the Tea Party is increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion: among most Americans, even before the furor over the debt limit, its brand was becoming toxic …,” writes David Campbell (Notre Dame University) and Robert Putman (Harvard University).
Let’s, for the moment, accept the professor’s premise that the Tea Party agenda of fiscal sanity and binding power-mad government with the chains of the Constitution swims “against the tide of public opinion,” does that make them wrong?
After all, the president’s dismal approval ratings show that many of the same Americans who elected him in 2008 are suffering from “voter’s remorse.” Tea Partiers were loud and out front of these non-thinkers at the first anti-tax rallies held across the nation that same year. And while most Americans were uneasy with Obama’s nationalization of health care, it wasn’t until the Tea Party voiced its full-throated opposition to the ObamaCare abomination that the outrage of sleepy Americans grew and solidified.
The obvious reason for this is that GOP establishment leaders vacated the field of political battle, believing in nothing nobler than getting re-elected. These empty suits thought it better to help the president craft his oppressive policies than to oppose them. One notable Republican, Arlen Specter, even became an Obama Democrat.
But the Tea Party made a fateful decision that put it on a course to change the national conversation: they decided to challenge Specter-like Republicans in the GOP primaries of 2010.
The Democrats and their establishment GOP handmaidens did not know the extent of Tea Party power until they attempted to raise the nation’s debt ceiling as quietly as they had in years past. That didn’t happen. Thanks to the Tea Party, spending and debt took center stage, with the usual sleepy Americans horrified at the tortured bipartisan compromise that raised the debt by $2 trillion while leaving the crafting of meaningless budget cuts to a legislative commission. In the debt-ceiling debate aftermath, polls showed the nation’s anti-incumbent sentiment grew white hot.
That can only benefit the Tea Party.
“The Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials,” says Campbell and Putman, “In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.”
And that’s the real story, and one that frightens both Democrats and their friends in the dominant Progressive mainstream media. Disaffected Tea Party conservative Republicans (and independents) are changing the face of the Republican Party that once played them like the proverbial fiddle; the men and women who campaigned as conservatives but legislated like their big-spending, big-government brothers across the aisle.
The Progressive media’s panic is palpable. They say that by pointing out the costly and unsustainable nature of America’s entitlement state the Tea Party is engaging in “terrorism.” That their vociferous defense of individual freedom against the coercive power of the Progressive state does not comport with their definition of “civility,” by which they mean silence and surrender.
The Campbell-Putman New York Times Op-Ed is an inept bit of Progressive propaganda. It’s doubtful their 3,000 person sampling is representative of the country at large. But their column, in my opinion, is meant to appeal to one specific constituency – the tired, timid and idealess compromisers leading today’s GOP. Progressives are desperate and hope the Republican Party’s usual suspects will rein-in their boisterous Tea Party members before they successfully upend Washington’s bankrupt Progressive Rube Goldberg machinery.
But there is a major flaw with this strategy: it assumes that many of these GOP dinosaurs will survive the weeding-out process to come this primary season. And with so many GOP dinosaurs heading toward extinction, the Times and Ivy-League professors will have only themselves to talk to.
It’s about to get a lot lonelier at the top of the ivory tower.