There’s a saying that you must get behind someone before you can stab them in the back. This is how the Tea Party definitely feels, I’m sure.
For those who are unaware, the Tea Party movement originated with the Libertarian Party and was championed on the heals of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in 2008. The movement started gaining momentum in 2009 and by the end of that year, it was naming candidates and had its eyes firmly set on the GOP. From it also came the Contract From America. The GOP, no doubt, saw it as a way to vault back into power on the heals of electoral losses in 2008 as it was a movement that was embraced by people of all political persuasions.
So many conservatives and Republicans embraced the Tea Party movement. Eventually it help bring several candidates into office while helping the re-election bids of several others. Three prominent “Tea Party candidates” were Michele Bachmann, Allen West and Rand Paul. Allen West and Rand Paul were newcomers to Washington at the start of the 2011 Congressional session while Michele Bachmann secured re-election.
On the heals of the 2012 election, Allen West is staring down the barrel of the gun of electoral defeat while Michele Bachmann barely held on, winning by less than 5,000 votes. Being a Senator, Rand Paul doesn’t face an electoral challenge until 2016.
With the Tea Party providing electoral influence, the GOP had little choice but to embrace it or be subverted by it. Unfortunately their worse fear came with the Tea Party: Ron Paul. In 2010 the GOP had three Republican opponents to Ron Paul for the Republican primary, but Ron Paul handily won the nomination with over 80% of the vote, and then Paul easily won re-election with over 3 out of every 4 votes going to him. Ron Paul, Rand Paul and the other Tea Party candidates were starting to set a precedent.
In response the Republican Party embraced the Tea Party and appeared to be welcoming of its ideas. But appearances were definitely deceiving.
In 2008 Ron Paul had immense popularity around the country, even more popular than every candidate for President in the 2007-2008 election season combined. Ron Paul’s popularity crosses party and ideological boundaries. This national popularity was met with resistance within the GOP, however, and he was unable to turn that popularity into primary votes to secure the 2008 nomination, which instead went to John McCain. Paul ran on the Libertarian ticket instead.
In the 2012 primary and caucus season, Ron Paul had much better success, spurned on by the Tea Party and other grass roots efforts. Turnouts in favor of Ron Paul shocked the GOP. In response, the GOP started fudging numbers, refusing to record votes for Ron Paul on official tallies and the like. And the ultimate insult came at the GOP convention in August, in which the Republican Party openly ignored and violated its own rules and then changed them on the fly. New rules the GOP adopted will ensure that insurgencies like what occurred with Ron Paul and the Tea Party will never see the light of day in the GOP again.
What they failed to anticipate was how Ron Paul’s supporters would respond.
Arrogantly the GOP still expected that Ron Paul’s supporters would come together with the rest of the Republican base and support Mitt Romney. As we saw, this didn’t happen. To expect that it would requires ignoring the obvious, something that Republicans have apparently been doing for quite a while. Instead the support that could’ve gone to Romney was instead scattered among all of the candidates – some to Romney but likely most to Johnson and Obama, or lost to abstention.
The GOP got behind the Tea Party initially. When the prime opportunity presented itself, they then stabbed all of us in the back. Not just the Tea Party, but the entire country.
And arrogantly conservatives and the GOP are blaming those they stabbed in the back for Romney’s electoral loss. No, this was something they did to themselves. It seems the Republican electoral loss this year was very predictable to everyone but the Republican Party. And rather than take ownership of their mistakes, they’d rather shift blame to some other group, even a group that is otherwise politically powerless.
How many people did the Republicans turn away? How many would have voted for Romney that ultimately voted for Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Obama, presuming they voted at all? Obviously it was enough to keep the election in Obama’s favor.
But the one question that Republicans refuse to ask is this: did Romney ever have a chance in this election at all? If he ever did, the GOP’s actions during the primaries, caucuses and the August convention are what destroyed his chances. Not the Libertarians. Not the other “vote wasters” as we who voted third party have been called.
No, Republicans, you did this yourself.