GOP vs. Tea Party

Republicans anticipate a Senatorial tsunami in November. North Carolina, South Dakota, Louisiana and Colorado appear ripe for the taking. As in 2010, they figure that being anti-Obama will suffice; all they need is to campaign light and win heavy. The old Republican establishment led by Haley Barbour expect big dividends in the fall.

And the reason they feel that way is that the Tea Party, in their eyes, has been diminished. Despite Eric Cantor’s defeat, the holding back of the Chris McDaniel’s campaign by the barest margin confirms the trend in the favor of the RINO faction nationwide. No more Todd Akins and the Senate will be theirs without much effort.

Yet in the case of Mississippi they may have gone an election too far. McDaniel ran a strong campaign and apparently won most Republican votes. Thad Cochran, a fixer politician, won on the strength of Democratic votes, votes he will not get in the fall. Cochran made an open appeal and Democrats helped bring down a young dynamic Republican who happened to affiliate with the Tea Party.

Republicans were convinced that if McDaniel won Mississippi’s primary, they would have been vulnerable to a Democratic takeover if the GOP rallied behind a man whose whole career was patronage and not principles. Moreover, McDaniel would have won easily in November given that the Democrat is badly underfunded. No, they wanted Cochran more because he is a reliable friend of Washington’s lobbyist class. When Cochran won, the American media celebrated as if Goliath had defeated David, an unseemly triumph of privilege over the average American.

But hand it to McDaniel, he has not let up; he has challenged the result and exposed the machinations of the established order. Unlike the religious right, whose good sportsmanship under such circumstances was phenomenal, the Tea Partiers fought back. In many respects it grew up in Mississippi in 2014.

Republicans in 2010 used them as shock troops and they came through. The John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthys expected to tame the relentless movement. But in 2014, based on a thin theory that Ken Buck or Akin and friends were the true culprits of Senatorial frustration, the old GOP devised a mid-term campaign very different from four years before. Suddenly, the Tea Party was shown the door – but surprisingly, they refused to leave.

These midterms are more like 1962, when Republicans chose old war-horses to run in big races. John Kennedy was considered vulnerable due to the Bay of Pigs and the Berlin Wall. But the new Republicans, those who were told by Barry Goldwater “to take back” the party in 1960, stayed home. Thus, Richard Nixon lost to Pat Brown for governor of California and Democrats actually picked up Senate seats.

Once again, Barrack Obama can thank an unimaginative, if not clueless, bunch of out-of-touch Republican bosses. It is like the Democratic party of the 1980s, flummoxed that a good old warhorse like Walter Mondale could not make it against Ronald Reagan.

Voter turnout is low and you can be sure they’ll be few Democrats backing the GOP in November.