As much as I fear some of these far-right xenophobic dilettantes actually being elected, I think the story line of this being a warning of what's to come in 2012's presidential race is a bit overblown.
Here's what the pundits are going off of:
- The president's party, historically, "always" looses seats in the first mid-term election.
- The majority party, historically, "always" looses seats when the economy is down.
- Trust in Washington is at "historic lows" (they say this, but I haven't actually seen polls going back very far to demonstrate just how historic these lows are).
- Turn-out in Republican primaries this year has been higher than in Democratic ones.
- Despite the handful of high profile nut-cases winning Tea/Republican Party nominations this season, over 95% of Congressional incumbents seeking reelection won their primaries.
- Of course Republican primaries had higher turn-outs: they were the ones being contested by the Tea Party wing-nuts. Most of the Democrats had little serious competition to draw out voters.
- They're winning this year by bringing out lots of first-time voters, and if there's one more "historically, always" we can add to our list, it's that first-time voters are typically one-time voters.
While they will certainly have some successes, they will fail to eliminate the IRS, Social Security, and the Department of Education. They will not end the debate over gay marriage, put a stop to legal abortion, and effect the deportation of every Muslim and Latino. And when they fail to achieve all their goals (remember, it's all or nothing for these guys), their followers will turn on them and crawl back under the rocks where they've been hiding all along.
The Tea Party Movement may be big news today, but most polls show that they only represent about 19% of the electorate. If they're the only ones who show up on election day, they can win. But they cannot put together enough of a majority to govern. And I predict that these political neophytes will not have the stamina or the momentum to put Sarah Palin (or similar) in the White House in 2012.
At least, this is what I keep telling myself in order to get to sleep at night.