Friday, September 24, 2010

Witch’s Brew for the Tea Party

Tea Party favorite, Senator Jim DeMint said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that if the GOP takes control in November but betrays conservatives again-as DeMint points out, his party certainly did during the Bush years-then “the Republican Party’s dead.” DeMint is not only correct, but under his leadership it’s not hard to imagine a Senator O’Donnell, or possibly a Senator Angle, generally voting for the same Tea Party principles that first brought them to the dance. DeMint knows well how the game is played on Capitol Hill and reliably plays it toward Tea Party ends. But there is a difference between cultural conservatives like O’Donnell, Angle and on some level, even DeMint, and more libertarian leaning candidates like Rand Paul, who possess a deeper and more comprehensive constitutional philosophy, due in no small part to his upbringing. To the extent that the otherwise solidly fiscally conservative DeMint disagrees with this libertarian wing of the Tea Party, that extra-constitutional statist measures are OK so long as they reflect the values of cultural conservatives-the federal drug war, federal anti-gay marriage legislation, an increased police state, funding trillion dollar undeclared wars-that this ideological disconnect in the Tea Party might endure is the greater fear raised when we are reminded of O’Donnell’s fundamentalist background, via her talk about “witchcraft,” or even masturbation being “adultery.” No conservative should really care about O’Donnell’s views on such subjects-only to the extent that her worldview could possibly, one day, undermine or negate the larger limited government aims of the Tea Party. escribing the Tea Party’s goals in both the short and long term, The American Conservative’s Daniel McCarthy writes, what’s “important in the long run is that a.) the GOP leadership be purged, and b.) conservatives realize that there’s a difference between being conservative and being crazy.” O’Donnell and similar Tea Party candidates have been of great value in this purging, despite occasionally exhibiting behavior that even their champions might consider “crazy.” So long as these candidates are perceived as more reliably conservative than crazy, they will likely continue to do well. To the extent that they might actually be crazy, time will tell-and the Tea Party will continue to brew...more

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