For the last several months I have heard the mainstream media mock the Tea Party for its laser-beam policy focus and the composition of its membership, and then forecasting the decline of the Tea Party because there was no central leadership. While it is true that Tea Parties tend to be locally-controlled and they are highly concentrated on the economy, government spending and waste, a quote from Mark Twain may be in order: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Last Tuesday, six-term incumbent Republican senator, Richard Lugar from Indiana lost his primary bid to Republican state treasurer Richard Mourdock. In fact, Sen. Lugar, for the first time in his 35-year political career, found himself in uncharted territory as he headed into Primary Day as the underdog. Mourdock defeated Senator Lugar by a 60-40 margin. Incumbency has its benefits and it is not easy to defeat one without great organization and a lot of funding. But that is precisely what the Tea Party did in the Hoosier State, as they were early backers of Mourdock’s bid.
Many local and state candidates across the nation will find themselves challenged by Tea Party candidates. No, there is not a 3rd party called the Tea Party, at least not yet. But, Tea Party support will give many challengers a chance to be viable and competitive.
What will these candidates have in common? A more conservative view for the limited role that government should play in the daily activities of both citizens and businesses. A large number of the Republicans who were sent as freshmen to Congress in 2010 were Tea Party-backed candidates. I expect to see those ranks added to this November in both houses of Congress. Even though the Democrats will put a lot more effort and money into the Indiana race now that Senator Lugar is not their opponent, I expect to see Mourdock as one of the 2012 freshmen in the US Senate.
In a short time, the Tea Party has established a hold in Washington. Former Republican presidential candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is the founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and a large portion of the South Carolina delegation (Jeff Duncan, Mick Mulvaney, Tim Scott and Joe Wilson) are members.
The Tea Party Caucus works hard to get out their message of individual liberty, personal responsibility, not saddling our children and grandchildren with insurmountable national debt and a balanced budget amendment. Because of her conservative positions and her willingness to stand up against the status quo, Bachmann found herself on the butt end of jokes and innuendos and was often held to a different standard than her male counterparts when she ran for president. To her credit, she handled those attacks with professionalism and grace.
Although the Tea Party’s influence may be scattered, their engagement will be noticed across the country and they will continue to make a difference in helping reform our government. Mark Twain is probably right, and the rumors of the Tea Party’s death are greatly exaggerated.
Karen Floyd is the Publisher of www.palladianview.com, the digital magazine for conservative women.