The Tea Party has flexed its muscles in recent primaries and special elections to the delight of conservatives and Republicans across America. The GOP is getting the biggest wake-up call since Barry Goldwater realigned the Republican Party with "true" conservative values: less government, lower taxes, and an emphasis on individual responsibility in opposition the Johnson's Great Society. Barry Goldwater's insurgency in the GOP eventually led to the success of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
It is said that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Republicans may be on the verge of missing a huge opportunity by getting into spitting matches over who is more conservative and more loved by Tea Party celebrities like Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint.
While I have no fondness for the unprincipled (as I see it) positions of moderate Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Olympia Snowe, it is essential to be a big-tent party if you want to govern. A small tent equals a small caucus. Charles Krauthammer reminded conservatives and Republicans of the "Buckley Rule," where the late William Buckley stated that conservatives should "support the most conservative candidate who is electable."
Mike Castle, a liberal Republican in a very liberal state, voted against the stimulus and against Obamacare. He did vote for cap and trade, which seems to be an unpardonable offense to some conservative pundits. Obama's cap and trade would be a disaster for industry and consumers, but if you have a 60% majority in Congress and 60 senators, Mike Castle's vote would be irrelevant. Conservatives should remember that a few Castles and Snowes make it much easier to filibuster nominees like Kagan and get nominees like Alito confirmed. After all, in politics, you cannot win every single battle; republican systems of government do not function that way, but dictatorships do.
Reagan famously opined, "The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally -- not a 20-percent traitor." You will never get 100% of the candidates voting with you 100% of the time. In politics, if you're batting .800, which probably is not even possible, you're doing fantastic. If you're batting .650, you're doing extraordinarily well.
Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint have every right to endorse or not endorse any candidate they want. The danger is that they risk polarizing each race they stick their nose in and risk dividing Republicans at a time where unity is essential. The goal must be winning back Congress to stop Obama's un-American transformational presidency.
Division and disunity in the Republican Party will lead to more success for the Obama administration. More Obama successes mean more government, less freedom, higher taxes, and a weaker nation. If anything, the Republicans should be focusing on issues that will divide the Democratic Party: family values, gun rights, tax cuts, and reduced government spending. Gone are the days of Reagan Democrats, but wouldn't it be great to have Mitch Daniels-Democrats or Newt Gingrich-Democrats? Newt-Democrats might be a stretch, but the point has been made.
If you're debating issues in which 60%-70% of the electorate is for you, you don't have to worry about Democrat filibusters because vulnerable Blue Dog incumbents will be worried about the next election just around the corner. Of course, you'll always have the hard-left representatives and senators from the dark blue areas of the country, but they become observers of the process rather than drivers. The Tea Party's positions on government size, the Constitution, gun rights, etc. are regarded favorably, generally speaking, from coast to coast. Americans enjoy grassroots movements because the original tea party in Boston harbor was a grassroots movement.
If the debate continues to be "I'm more conservative than you are" in every primary, the GOP will be handing the Democrats a victory even if Boehner becomes Speaker. A razor-thin majority will leave the Republicans only slightly better off than they are now. A major fault of George W. Bush and Karl Rove's strategy was that it did not create a long-term vision of what the Republican Party stands for. Their strategy was geared only towards the next election, not the next twenty, years as Reagan's and Goldwater's were. Reagan built an ideological foundation for a movement; Rove built a machine that ran for only a four-year spurt and died afterward in a heap of rust.
If one is to believe it's better to die on principle and lose in the process, the result will be essentially paving the way to more Obama victories on immigration, cap and trade, and government expansion. If you want to stop the Obama transformation, you must be prepared to accept that you'll have 80% allies on some issues.
Abraham Lincoln famously said, "A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have." The Tea Party and the GOP need to realize that 80%-90% of the time, every nominee will share the same enemy: the unlimited and unrestricted growth of government made possible by Democratic Party control. Any candidate nominated who doesn't share that belief should be defeated. But the GOP can't afford to lose a lot of 80% friends, or it'll have missed a huge opportunity to the benefit of President Obama and his socialist agenda.