The Republican Party needs the tea parties, whether or not they want to admit it. My biggest complaint of the GOP for the last several years is that you can’t distinguish them from big government, tax and spend, let’s micromanage your lives liberals. The 2010 election cycle has a promising difference from elections of late: the tea parties.
People like Charlie Crist or Dede Scozzafava allow people to say “they’re all the same”. It wasn’t the campaign promises that turned people away from the GOP, but the lack of their delivery. Democrats, Dem-lites, RINOS, DIABLO, moderates, etc…who can really tell the difference?
With the current tea party movement under way, the Republicans have a chance to rebrand themselves. “Tea party Republicans” could set themselves apart from the same old, same old and rise to the top. Doug Hoffman of NY-23 fame and Marco Rubio are prime examples. At the beginning of 2009, it was inconceivable that Rubio would overtake Crist for Florida and who knew that a third party candidate of tea flavor could tackle the GOP Establishment and narrowly win.
What do these candidates have that set them apart? They both have heavy tea party endorsements. They embraced the tea party platform, for a lack of a better word: small government, low taxes, and fiscal responsibility. Doesn’t sound all that original if you think about it but for a party that’s lost touch with its base, it’s a godsend.
Running on the tea party label sets yourself apart from your opponents. People voted for false-change in 2008, but with the tea parties Washington will get a rude awakening. When casting a vote for a Tea Party Republican, people know that they aren’t just throwing it away on someone who will continue politics as usual. This can only benefit the Republican candidates.
However, is the GOP willing to embrace the “fringe right” for their party’s future? Republicans have a remarkable ability to sabotage their own success, and if November comes along without a Republican/Tea Party coalition, it’s easy to imagine yet another year of GOP failure.
Unless you add tea leaves to water, you’ll be left with plain, tasteless water, undistinguishable from the vast oceans that make up our political system. The GOP should be well advised.