In the months leading up to next week’s midterm election, the influence of the Tea Party made itself felt by relentlessly going after the few moderate Republicans who were up for reelection. One after another, experienced right-wing politicians—Utah’s Senator Bob Bennett, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Delaware’s Mike Castle—went down to defeat in their party’s primary, replaced by extremist “Tea Party” candidates.
In today’s Party of No, anyone who’s ever said yes to anything in Washington—constructive or otherwise—is suspect. With the kind of mindless, knee-jerk decision making that’s all too typical in American politics, the conservative hoards seem to be obeying the libertarian mantra: “Throw the bums out.”
This purging of the right in the interest of some sort of ill-defined ideological purity may well result in sweeping away some of the nominal Democrats who’ve routinely abandoned their principles and their president’s progressive agenda in a quixotic attempt to please powerful right-wing interests.
In Arkansas, for example, Blanche Lincoln seems to be battling into oblivion against Republican John Boozman. I say good riddance to her: she didn’t do her party any good by voting for good legislation, like the health care overhaul, while trashing it publicly to please conservatives back home. Political columnist Max Brantley called her “wishy-washy by nature”—and we’ve got enough of that in Congress already, so long as we still have to put up with John McCain.
Similarly, a recent WSJ article reported that of the 54 “Blue Dog” Democrats (that is to say “Democrats in Name Only”) in the House, more than half are in serious jeopardy of losing their seats in next week’s election. If that happens, as the article suggests, the United States Congress may end up significantly more polarized than it has been for the past two years—or maybe the past two hundred years.
And I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. It won’t be pretty, but maybe it will be a good thing for both sides in America’s battle for the minds of the masses to get their cards out on the table.
American voters are simplistic thinkers, after all, and impatient with too much analysis. Let’s get the Rand Pauls and the Joe Millers out there, in all their proud ignorance, and have them explain—at length— to the American people why Civil Rights legislation tramples on the “rights” of business owners and why Social Security should be “privatized” (which is to say “turned over to Wall Street”).
Meanwhile, let’s make sure that the Democrats we elect to Congress are “real” Democrats—people able and willing to stand up for the rights of individuals to have security, freedom, and fair treatment from banks, insurance companies, and big business.