After last week’s stunning election results and the gnashing of teeth that could be heard from both establishment Republicans and Tea Party activists, now is a good time to tell everyone to RELAX! Take a chill pill! The November elections are what matters, and as conservatives, we have a generational opportunity (thanks to Obama, Pelosi, and Reid) to get the ship pointed in the right direction. To do so, we need everyone working together. We need the ground game. We need the big picture. We need the strategy. What we don’t need are people flying off the handle and saying stupid things without thinking…. whether it’s an angry Tea Party activist or Karl Rove.
The influence of the Tea Party movement was on brilliant display last week as Christine O’Donnell beat Rep. Mike Castle to win the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware. Castle had a solid lead, had never lost an election, and was a perfect example of a New England, moderate, establishment Republican. Yet, when the Tea Party started pumping money into O’Donnell’s race, the tide started to change. The result was a victory on election night, and a shot across the bow of the “establishment.”
What happened next is what everyone should think about…
On election night, as O’Donnell and her supporters were celebrating victory, Former Bush political advisor Karl Rove was on Fox News throwing a temper tantrum. Yes, he pointed out VALID political concerns which I will address shortly, but in addition to his analysis, he vented a personal anger at O’Donnell and the Tea Party which was unwarranted at best and politically asinine at worst. The response from Tea Party activists was swift and, at times, equally misguided.
First, a look at the numbers and some political analysis. Most pollsters and pundits are now saying that the GOP will take back control of the House of Representatives. If so, then we can bring the socialist agenda of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid to a halt. Because of the political tide and the anger of the voters, there is also a CHANCE that Republicans could retake the Senate. Republicans would have to gain ten seats in order for that to happen. As noted by a Rasmussen Reports poll, there are four solid Senate seats that Republicans should pick up in November: Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. This means that six more seats are needed for control, and Rasmussen has six seats listed in the “toss-up” category: California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Is the GOP capable of running the table? Perhaps. But, at least according to the polls, the effort was made much harder with O’Donnell’s victory. Prior to last week, both Rasmussen and Charlie Cook at the Cook Political Report had the Delaware Senate seat as a potential pick-up for the GOP. After she won, it immediately moved into the “Solid Dem” category.
Now, let’s look at the political fallout. Partly because of the political analysis, Rove and others blasted the Tea Party movement for rallying behind a candidate that can’t win in November. “Control of the Senate is at stake,” was their reasoning… mostly. I still can’t help but believe that some of these “leaders” who rely on the grassroots for victory have a disdain for them when votes are not on the line.
In addition to Rove’s comments, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson used his column in the Washington Post to defend Rove and blast “some conservatives” for being upset with his comments.
Gerson: “In Tea Party theory, inexperience is itself seen as a kind of qualification. People like O’Donnell are actually preferable to people like Rove, because they haven’t been tainted by public trust or actual achievement. This is the attitude of the adolescent — the belief that the world began on their thirteenth birthday. It is also a sign of childish political thought.”
As Gerson points out in his column, “while Rove’s critique was tough, the reaction in parts of the conservative blogosphere has been unhinged.” Although, I wouldn’t phrase it like that, Gerson is right in that many activists unloaded on Rove’s comments without thinking through the situation. That night and for days following the election, GOPUSA received e-mail after e-mail from angry Tea Party activists saying that the GOP is stupid, that they better support O’Donnell, and to “take me off of your ()#%&)# e-mail list.
Just a note… GOPUSA is NOT “the party.” It’s a private company dedicated to promoting the conservative agenda.
Did Tea Party activists overreact? Yes. I mean, come on… did anyone really think that Rove would not point out O’Donnell’s flaws and state how the Delaware race had turned? Turning away from the GOP is NOT the answer. O’Donnell is the GOP nominee, and she is going to need help to get elected. On the flip side, and this is where Rove and people like Gerson just don’t get it, it was completely idiotic to go on TV on election night and blast the WINNING candidate. The people who helped get her elected are the same people who will have to work even harder to help her win against the Democrat. These activists need to be embraced, not ridiculed.
Here’s the point… the numbers indicate that the Delaware Senate seat is now harder to win than before. Will that mean the Republicans end up winning it in November? Will control of the Senate come down to this seat? All of that is unknown. What is known is that the Tea Party movement is real, and it is a force. It’s a force for change, and a force for returning to conservative principles that SHOULD be the bedrock of the Republican Party. Tea Party activists need the GOP to further their agenda, and the GOP needs the Tea Party activists to regain control. So, enjoy your chill pill, and let’s get to work.