But the tea party crowd, and the Republican Party itself, may just be beginning to learn from its mistakes. The oft-predicted bloody GOP civil war hasn't materialized. In fact, there are many groups working to unify the GOP's progressive, centrist, and right-wing conservative factions, such as Republicans United and David Frum's Frum Forum. There seems to be less in-fighting than last year, as if the GOP is actually starting to listen to the Big Tent speak. Look no further for evidence than the recent Scott Brown victory; a Progressive Republican by all accounts-he even describes himself as fiscally conservative yet is a social moderate. And not only did he get GOP backing, he won in a traditionally all dem state. And the tea partiers did not get upset that a moderate won-quite the opposite in fact. In Sarah Palin's keynote address at the tea party convention, she said that "...in many ways Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about..."
In a syndicated op-ed piece, The Potent Tea Party, Rich Lowry writes:
If the tea partiers were to split from the GOP, or be spurned by it, that
would indeed spell disaster for Republicans. It's an unlikely prospect, though.
In a survey for the National Review Institute, pollster John McLaughlin found
that tea-party activists and their sympathizers self-identify as Republicans,
and 68 percent of them voted for John McCain. They are pro-life, pro-tax cuts
and pro-defense -- in other words, mainstream conservatives who are particularly
engaged by the debt-fueled growth of government.
Palin's rapturously received speech in Nashville could have been delivered
almost line for line at a Republican Convention. She skipped the social issues,
but otherwise rehearsed unalloyed conservative orthodoxy on national-security
and fiscal issues. This is not the stuff of ideological fissure or
Any activist-driven movement will inevitably have rough edges. The
Nashville convention itself was beset by feuding among tea-party groups and
allegations of profiteering for its extravagant $550 admission price. It gave a
platform to ranters Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman, and Joe
Farah, editor of a right-wing Web site, both of whom predictably delivered
But such embarrassments are a trifle compared with the enthusiasm of the
tea partiers, and their populist-tinged purifying impulse. They want to
reconnect the GOP to the people, to its principles and to an ideal of public
service that got obscured in the decadent latter days of its congressional
Tom Tancredo gave a terrible speech, and was rightfully called out by Meghan McCain when she said "...I'm sorry [but] revolutions start with young people. Not with 65-year-old people talking about literacy tests and people who can't say the word 'vote' in English. It's ridiculous..."
And she is right. Speeches like Tancredo's, and in fact speakers like Tancredo, should be scorned by the tea party and the GOP itself. The way to really start winning again is to continue to embrace the "big-tent" ideal that Reagan spoke of in the '80's; by embracing our brothers and sisters that are more progressive than us, and also those that are more conservative than us, so that we can, together, reconnect the GOP to the people.
Crossposted at Republicans United