Paul Krugman argues that the Republican Party has for years cynically manipulated conservative voters while actually doing very little to further the conservative political agenda.
But now, after decades of being asked to cooperate with self-styled “centrists” while seeing the United States drift ever-further from its cultural roots and free market individualism, the conservative base is threatening to leave the Grand Old Party in favour of the Tea Party.
“Conservatives had long believed that history was on their side, so the G.O.P. establishment could, in effect, urge hard-right activists to wait just a little longer: once the party consolidated its hold on power, they’d get what they wanted,” Krugman writes. “After the Democratic sweep, however, extremists could no longer be fobbed off with promises of future glory.”
That sounds about right.
The GOP knows that it doesn’t stand a chance without the Tea Party, which is why the leaders of the Tea Party are gaining power. This is one reason they are listening, perhaps more than ever, to populist right-wing media figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
Because these people aren’t interested in actually governing, they feed the base’s frenzy instead of trying to curb or channel it. So all the old restraints are gone.
In the short run, this may help Democrats, as it did in that New York race. But maybe not: elections aren’t necessarily won by the candidate with the most rational argument. They’re often determined, instead, by events and economic conditions.
In fact, the party of Limbaugh and Beck could well make major gains in the midterm elections.
In short, 2010 may be the year of the Tea Party.
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