I feel the need to comment on the Sharron Angle phenomenon through more than just a link, because it’s really emblematic of the entire Tea Party movement.
In Nevada, we have a fairly unpopular politician in Harry Reid. He was losing badly against two of the three Republican candidates, and in a three-way race his level of support was something around 36%. There’s no good reason for Harry Reid to win this election at all, and any sort of grown-up Republican will be able to put paid to the Obama agenda’s pointman in the Senate.
But wait! A challenger appeared! The Tea Parties managed to get Sharron Angle the GOP nomination out of nowhere, and ever since it looks like Reid’s going to coast to victory. The guy just has to point to her record of statements and positions-from her desire to roll back women’s rights to her opposition to the separation of church and state to even supporting some half-baked Scientology prisoner reform thing-in order to win.
Meanwhile, establishment Republicans are telling her to STFU, and Angle just rebooted her campaign under pressure from them. However, I don’t think there’s any coming back from this. The damage has been done, and Reid is currently leading by anywhere from 1 to 4 points.
The moral of this story is that the media narrative about a Tea Party-led Republican resurgence is all wrong. Tea Parties, when they let themselves loose, will only hurt Republicans. Sure, they’ll be able to knock establishment Republicans out of safe seats in red states and probably win the general elections, but that won’t add any numbers to the GOP superminority. The only time they managed to elect a Republican in a swing or blue state, it was a moderate Republican, they had momentum behind them on an issue with debatable popularity in a state that already had universal healthcare and were campaigning against a terrible Democratic candidate. The public may be supporting a general Republican more than they were a while back, but when they see the specific Tea Party-approved Republicans in their swing state they’re not going to back them.
What does this mean for libertarians? First off, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that our future is bound up with the Tea Parties. Ron Paul’s campaign started off the concept of the tea party, and the initial round of tea parties had libertarian input but at this point I’d say it’s a hijacked, corporatist, racist mess. What bits of libertarianism they might have are lost in the border-closing, gay-hating agenda of the rest of it, and if this is what we want to represent us then one day our grandchildren will talk about libertarians in the same breath as segregationists.
We should instead make common cause with clear-headed Republicans (that is, those few moderates that remain), or in areas where that is impossible, with Democrats. The Libertarian Party’s irrelevant, the tea parties are tainted and at this point the hope for a libertarian future lies with the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Democratic Freedom Caucus.