They are so hopelessly adrift in their own alternate political reality, so detached from the real world that now confronts them that Tuesday’s 2012 election thumping threatens to repeat itself in 2016 unless something dramatic happens.
As if there were any doubts about the Tea Party’s continuing delirium, you need only have glimpsed Wednesday’s low-brow press conference in Washington, D.C. in which they trashed defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a “weak, moderate candidate” who was “hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”
Hard to believe that it was less than 24 hours earlier that these same Tea Partiers were touting the former Massachusetts governor as an experienced leader whose skilled business acumen and ability to cross political aisles for the greater good was just what the country desperately needed to get back on track.
Never mind the fact that it speaks more of them and their ridiculously polarizing nominating process if both Romney and 2008 nominee John McCain were both weak candidates as has often been said following their respective presidential election losses to Obama.
Nope, much easier for the Tea Party to simply blame the messenger, rather than heed the unmistakable message the American public resoundingly sent them on Tuesday.
Namely that the majority of Americans have grown tired of their steadfast refusal to ever yield an inch on anything in the name of a rigid ideological purity, as well as the hateful, racially-charged rhetoric that has characterized the right-wing group since its rise in 2009 as an angry response to Obama’s election.
Democratic Party exit polls on Tuesday showed the Tea Party with a paltry 21 percent favorable rating among voters. Their extremism cost the GOP at least five Senate seats and the chance to regain control of that body. Those in Congress saw what happened to former distinguished Senator Richard Lugar and others who dared cooperate in the slightest with the Obama administration. A Tea Party challenger in the primaries was much more politically dangerous to any Republican Congressional member than any Democrat in the general election.
A six-term senator who was the Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar was unceremoniously dumped in a primary challenge this spring by Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, who later became a national joke following his ill-conceived comments in which he suggested that a pregnancy from rape was “something that God intended to happen.”
Not surprisingly, Mourdock lost last week’s general election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
The Tea Baggers forced Romney to the extreme right during the primary season with his talk of self-deporting Mexicans by the millions, pledge to defund Planned Parenthood and promise of tax cuts that favored the wealthy among other things and it cost him dearly.
A natural moderate, Romney didn’t lose because he wasn’t conservative enough. His electoral college beat down was a virtually certainty after alienating Latinos, African-Americans, women and young voters, explaining why he couldn’t attract enough independent voters and lost every battleground state except for North Carolina.
Demographics tell us that Latinos are already the largest and fastest-growing minority in the nation, while the influence of the older, white men that dominate the Tea Party is fast waning.
Blessed with a young, growing population that is only now fully exercising its vast political muscle for the first time, Latinos are in a position to ask for more of our politicians.
No, demand it.
That means that you don’t need to be a math major to deduce that something needs to happen fast if the GOP is to remain politically viable at the national level in 2016 and beyond.
As in making a more inclusive tent that is no longer hijacked by Tea Party extremism.
Tea Party officials in complete denial of the new political reality are already touting first-term Senator Marco Rubio as their preferred go-to guy in 2016, their thinking being that his proven conservative beliefs, Cuban-American pedigree and roots in the key electoral state of Florida will be enough to get them back into the White House.
More wishful thinking.
Rubio, at age 41, is an excellent speaker with a very promising political future ahead of him. No way he tosses that away in a rush to likely face Hillary Clinton four years from now. Now President Obama’s Secretary of State, the former First Lady and U.S. Senator from New York has the highest approval ratings of any Cabinet member. She will be a virtual tour-de-force with her husband, former president and campaigner-in-chief Bill Clinton, and an Obama deeply grateful for the needed Clinton help in his own re-election all by her side.
Hillary Clinton learned her lesson in 2008 when she underestimated Barack Obama and she won’t make the same mistake again.
The reality is that it’s doubtful that Rubio would want to risk being saddled with a presidential election loss at such a young age and become the political equivalent of radioactive waste for years to come.
But don’t tell that to the wishful Tea Partiers.
That doesn’t resonate in their world either.