The final primaries of the 2010 mid-term national elections have now been concluded, and they ended with a bit of a bang as the season of upsets and upstarts made one more appearance.
I have argued for many months now that the so-called Republican establishment and the Democratic Party in general make a huge mistake in underestimating and criticizing the Tea Party movement. Now there can be little doubt that they are the emblematic new force in the 2010 elections.
The conventional wisdom is that Christine O’Donnell’s surprise defeat of long-time GOP officeholder Michael Castle in Delaware means that a hitherto “sure GOP win” is now a “sure GOP loss.” The same was said previously about Linda McMahon’s nomination in the Connecticut senate contest when it turned from a “sure GOP win” while incumbent Senator Chris Dodd was the Democratic candidate, but became a “sure GOP loss” when Attorney General Blumenthal replaced Dodd on the ticket andMcMahon won Republican primary. I want to stress, as I have been doing for weeks, that NO incumbent is absolutely safe this year, especially no Democratic incumbent, and particularly Democrats Blumenthal and Koons (Delaware), even though they currently have “safe” leads. Mr. Castle and Mr. Lazio in New York, only a few weeks ago, held double-digit “insurmountable” leads, albeit only in their own parties.
Thus Rick Lazio’s landslide defeat in the New York GOP gubernatorial primary, and the extraordinary weakness of nearly all Democratic candidates for house, senate and governor, tells us one more time what an incredible year it has been, and going to be, with voters aroused as perhaps they have not been before.
It is not the age or sex of candidates that matters this year. It is their attitude, their conduct, and their awareness that there has been a sea change in American politics. Younger candidates such as Lazio and older ones such as Mike Castle represent the “politics as usual” crowd, a crowd of politicians that voters are rejecting left and right this year.
What is this “politics as usual” attitude? It is senators and congresspersons who take care of themselves first, i.e., higher salaries and benefits for themselves, larger staffs, lots of pork barrel, taxpayer-paid trips abroad, voting for highly unpopular legislation, and so forth. Most American voters have had their fill of this. The cliche that voters hold a low opinion of Congress, but support their own member of Congress, is no longer necessarily true.
Democrats should rightly fear the Tea party phenomenon. It is no surprise that their strategists are already slandering this movement as “racist,” “extremist,” and “radical.” It is nothing of that sort. It is a genuine grass roots movement fed up with how Washington is run. It is furious at President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress for its radical agenda. It supports Republicans, but only if they offer change. It is conservative, but not necessarily partisan in the usual sense. And it is very, very angry.
I want to point out that my commentary about this is not necessarily about my personal political views. In fact, on some issues I may well disagree with the majority of Tea Party views. (On many others, I may agree with them.) My observations are my attempt to fulfill my role as a fair and accurate observer of politics, particularly the politics of this remarkable political season.
So if any of my readers think I will now moderate my prediction (made on this space only two days ago) of an historic GOP sweep ahead in November because grass roots Republicans have upset the political apple cart in the primaries, they are mistaken. I may be wrong about this, but so far I see nothing to change my mind. In fact, yesterday’s primaries only reinforced it.
Democrats, rejoice at your peril. Old-line Republicans, complain at yours.