According to an article in the Washington Post this week, the Tea Party will be making its “last stand” in the June 3rd Mississippi Senate primary. It’s not really a last stand but the match-up between longtime Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel is drawing a lot of attention and, more importantly, money from Tea Party groups looking to salvage what has been a poor showing thus far in 2014’s primary season.
But why, after some success in recent elections, has the Tea Party done so badly this time around. The answer: the Republicans they haven’t already beaten in a primary are too similar to Tea Party candidates.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at four candidates and their issue positions taken directly from their websites: Cochran, McDaniel, Mitch McConnell, and his defeated opponent, Tea Partier Matt Bevin.
Cochran: “Thad continues to fight against Obamacare. He has voted to oppose, defund or repeal Obamacare’s overreach 102 times on the Senate.” (Thanks for using the Senate’s time and taxpayers dollars so well…)
McDaniel: “Obamacare is a train wreck and must be repealed immediately. Chris was a leading opponent of Obamcare in Mississippi, volunteering his free time as lead counsel in a suit against Obamacare.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell has given over 100 speeches against Obamacare on the Senate floor.” (See previous parenthetical message.)
Bevin: “Obamacare isn’t even fully implemented, and it is already a disaster…We need to defund Obamacare immediately and repeal Obamacare as quickly as legislatively possible.”
So, which ones are the establishment Republicans and which are the Tea Partiers? Exactly.
Cochran: “In fact, he is one of three Senators in history to vote against every comprehensive immigration reform bill that sought to provide amnesty…Thad believes that the United States needs to improve its legal immigration policies and consistently enforce laws already on the books so that we remain globally competitive.
McDaniel: “Chris opposes amnesty and believes we most enforce the laws on the books.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell has voted to secure the border and has opposed amnesty.”
Bevin: “An effective plan that stops the failed cycle of amnesty would include immediate enforcement of all the laws on the books.”
McConnell doesn’t have an “enforce the laws on the books” under his issue position page. What a lefty!!
Cochran: “The National Rifle Association gives Thad an “A+” rating. Thad believes that the Second Amendment right of the American people to keep and bear arms is not negotiable.”
McDaniel: “Chris is a proud supporter of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and will oppose all efforts to undermine this crucial right.”
McConnell: “Mitch McConnell is ‘A’ rated by the NRA for his support of Second Amendment rights.”
Bevin: “Matt is a proud conceal carry gun owner and he believes the Second Amendment is the lynchpin of the Bill of Rights, as it was designed to protect all of the other Amendments.”
Bevin apparently would have proudly carried his gun to the Senate chamber and made sure he got his way (not really). Because if there is one thing the Founding Fathers loved, it was ruling people using weapons.
Cochran: “Thad is pro-life and helped launch the Hyde Amendment to bar the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions…The National Right to Life Committee strongly supports this legislation and gives Thad a 100% rating for voting to protect unborn children.”
McDaniel: “Chris is unabashedly pro-life and believes we have a responsibility to protect innocent unborn life.”
McConnell: “Since 1998, Mitch McConnell has a 100% pro-life rating by National Right to Life…co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to ban federal funding for most abortions.”
Bevin: “Matt is pro-life and believes we have a duty to protect unborn human life…In the U.S. Senate, Matt will vote against any bill that contains federal funding or other material support for abortions.”
Remember folks, abortions in any case are unacceptable. People getting killed through lax gun control laws, malnutrition overseas, or unnecessary wars is totally fine.
Cochran: “Thad also is a cosponsor of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which would bar the federal government from discriminating against individuals and organizations based upon their faith-founded belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
McDaniel: “Chris believes marriage is between a man and a woman and will vote to protect traditional marriage.”
McConnell: Doesn’t appear on his issue page but he has clear record of opposition.
Bevin: “Matt supports marriage as traditionally defined between a man and a woman.”
Cochran’s is actually worded a little loosely (no pun intended) compared to the others but still pretty much the same. (I lied. Pun intended.)
The list could go on but two key factors should be noted. The first is the Tea Party was clearly successful in pushing the already right-of-center U.S. political elite (not the public) even further to the right in recent years and don’t have many areas where they can gain at this point. They have knocked out the easy ones to beat and are having a tougher time with the ones they can’t paint as moderates. While a similar list could be made with some Democrats in certain districts/states, the Tea party is trying to sell itself as a big change from the establishment when it really is not.
The second is the realization is now clearly hitting both the Republicans and Tea Partiers that their views are increasingly out-of-touch with younger generations and will one day be historically embarrassing. And that’s true without even mentioning the harsh reality of climate change and the destructive views of the right concerning it.
While the Post is wrong that June 3rd will be the last stand of the Tea Party, they are correct in suggesting a decline is coming and its political power might be irrelevant sooner than we think.