Monday night, the eight remaining Republican candidates for President of the United States faced off in a debate hosted by CNN and the Tea Party Express.
The candidates traded barbs with each other and answered questions on everything from social security, to taxes, to border security, to what physical changes they would make to the White House. But at the end of the night, the biggest headline from the debate would not be about any of the candidates’ remarks from the stage, but instead something that occurred out in the audience.
Towards the end of the debate, CNN anchor Wolfe Blitzer asked Texas Representative Ron Paul about how he would react to a hypothetical scenario involving an otherwise healthy man who does not have medical insurance and suddenly goes in to a coma. “Should society let him die?” asked Blitzer.
“Yeah!” responded members of the crowd enthusiastically. Others in the audience laughed. It was both a disturbing and telling moment, and serves as a reminder of the real threat the Tea Party poses to the Republican Party.
The Tea Party is absolutely uncompromising in their agenda, as we saw in the debate over the debt ceiling. Tea Party members would have sooner allowed our country to default on its debt than allow any sort of compromise.
Locally, they protested outside Congressman Diane Black’s office because of her vote in favor of the compromise bill supported by Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The darlings of the Tea Party movement include: South Carolina Senator Jim Demint, who is on the record stating that sexually active single women should not be allowed to teach in public schools, Michele Bachmann, who stated in a 2008 MSNBC appearance that the media should probe members of congress to see who held anti-American views, and failed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell who is not a witch. Just to clarify.
They’re an organization that thrives on rhetorical bomb throwing, ignores a candidate’s electability in a hypothetical general election matchup when making primary endorsements, panders to the lowest common denominator of public taste, and is quick to turn on their own.
They have targeted even the most conservative of political figures, such as Sarah Palin, one of their more vocal supporters, when she endorsed center- right candidates such as Carly Fiorina and former running mate, John McCain, in their respective primary races last year.
The Tea Party movement holds Republican leaders by a death grip, steering the policies and rhetoric of the party away from the “big-tent” philosophy of GOP politics that engages independent voters and allows room in the battle of ideas for moderate leaders, toward fringe-right politics that will not translate to a functioning government and only add to the gridlock in Washington.
I am proud to be a Republican. I passionately support the values of free enterprise, fiscal restraint, and personal responsibility and I believe that the planks of our party’s platform provide the best foundation to equip individuals to pursue the American dream, but it is time for cooler heads to prevail within our party’s internal struggles and reclaim the driver’s seat in terms of the ideas we articulate and the candidates we nominate. Otherwise, we’re headed for a cliff.