Baltimore Ok, the Tea Party is full of known whacks. We all know that. We can all agree that they were dead as a doornail as a mass-based organization. Recently, they staged a series of rallies during the recess that had to be scrubbed, because nobody came. Everyone agrees that they are totally off the chain in threatening even to shutdown the entire federal government soon in their obsessive fixation with the evils of Obamacare, yet somehow they continue to drive the Republicans crazy and push them farther and farther to the right. How do they manage to do so much of this with so little? I think part of their answer is simply that unlike the left, they are willing to be spoilers on the right.
Tea people are now running in Republican primaries in Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee for example. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader from Kentucky, can’t be confused with a moderate and Alexander and Graham might only be seen as moderates in the polarization of contemporary politics. Yet, the willingness of Tea people to run against them is chilling to the Republicans, and of course the fact that Tea people are also running against sitting Democrats in Louisiana, Colorado, and North Dakota and for open seats in Georgia, Iowa, and South Dakota, also sends a clear message. These races move votes and legislation to the right, win, lose, or draw.
Yet we are still unwilling to challenge even conservative Democrats from the left for fear of being spoilers, despite the abundant evidence of how successful the strategy continues to be for the Tea Party. It seems that the Achilles heel for liberals, unlike the Tea Party people, is that they are unafraid of losing or being embarrassed, while too many potential challengers from the left want to be guaranteed victory before running rather than embracing the Tea Party and Mao’s maxim of “dare to struggle, dare to win.” I’m heartened by Bill de Blasio’s race for Mayor in New York City, where he is unabashedly willing to parade his principles and is seeing them resonate. I’m rooting for Wendy Davis in Texas to begin rebuilding a base from the left, rather than ceding this great state and its people to the right.
I’ll probably vote for Mary Landrieu again when she runs in Louisiana. I always have. Nonetheless, I will always cherish the day I met with her on a mission from SEIU and then President Stern several campaigns ago to deliver the message that no contributions would be coming to her campaign form the union, because “if we wanted to give to Republicans, we would donate to them directly.” But, despite the fact that I will vote for Mary again in the general election, I would love to see a left challenger in the primaries to move some of her votes farther away from the oil and gas empire, the shot-to-kill gunners, and some of the others.
It seems clear that we have to have candidates that speak to us and our issues, even though we may lose a lot of elections before we win as many as we will, and that means embracing our inner-Tea Party and being willing to sometimes spoil, even if a moderate or conservative Democrat might lose, in order to finally see victory for progressive politics and politicians in the future.