The Tea Party . . . comin’ back at ya!

If you still haven’t finished Schadenfreudegasming over the elections, you might particularly enjoy this article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, about how the Tea Party movement is responding to the election results. True to form, they believe they’ve learned a lesson: Republicans still aren’t conservative enough!

In the article, Tea Party activists reel off a long list of reasons why their candidates fared poorly in the elections: there’s “the strength of the Obama ground game,” for one, and “the fact that Romney just didn’t inspire much enthusiasm,” for another. Oh, and also the fact that some of the campaigns they supported allegedly were not very well-run.

They pin the blame entirely on outside forces and on failures of competence and execution, not on basic message. That it never dawns on them that the vast majority of voters might find their “it’s all your fault, you loser! you’re on your own!!” ideology to be deeply unappealing, particularly in light of the worst economic crisis of the last 80 years, is telling. According to exit polls from the election, only 21% of voters support the Tea Party (30% are opposed and 42% are neutral).

The Tea Party’s plans, now, are to take out various national Republicans they don’t deem to be conservative enough, via aggressive primarying. Because that worked out so well last time. Among their targets: Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Eminently mockable though the Tea Party types may be, I would never count them out. They are passionately dedicated to what they believe in, and not easily discouraged. The fact that they are also bat@#$% cray cray actually works in their favor in some ways; ignoring all evidence, they are deeply convinced that America is behind them and would totally support them, if only The People Knew the Truth! They will soldier doggedly on.

No doubt, also, they will learn. I am convinced that all it would have taken for the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock to win would have been some higher quality media training. You take away their gaffes and you would have had some very tight races indeed. The TP types surely know this. They know, too, that since 2014 is an off-year election with an older, whiter electorate, they will face a more favorable playing field. All in all, I am very far from counting these dudes out.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee