Tea Party Losses Are A Win For All Of Us

November 3, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – America is entitled to change and yesterday they responded in thunderous ways.  Although there were no real surprises in the results, what it will mean may take some time to sort out.  But I had promised today to write about the Tea Party and how they fared yesterday.

This is my interpretation.

There were some wins, Rand Paul as an example, and some loses, Christine O’Donnell.  Some Tea Party candidates won seats that would have gone Republican anyway.  Marco Rubio in Florida and Mike Lee in Utah are Tea Partiers in places that would have gone in their direction Tea Party or not.  These are not Tea Party victories, per se.

What to me is most remarkable to note is the damage that the Tea Party created for the Republican Party.  In some of the places where Tea Party candidates lost, like in Delaware and Nevada, a credible candidate would have almost certainly won those seats.

So what does all this tell us at this point about the Tea Party and their future on the conservative movement?  It’s actually a story of two opportunities.

Opportunity number one is the movement.  I would suggest as a movement their success is theirs to define at this point.  There was certainly enough evidence to prove that their message was one that resonated with many in the Republican Party and their message of more entrenched conservative values and fiscal conservatism is welcomed by many.  How they decide to shape those messages moving forward will be critical to how well they can continue to raise money and grow that movement.

Opportunity number two is a bit more of a slippery slope.  Candidates.  They have to find a way to attract candidates that aren’t so extreme and frankly, odd.  They cannot rely on people who agree with their positions as THE test as to whether or not they will be supported and endorsed.  What this election proved for the Tea Party movement was that the message resonated but the messengers did not.  That is not a winning formula period.

I really dig movements.  Groups like Progressive Democrats of America (www.pdamerica.org) have proven that a well organized movement the deals with issues first and candidates second is a winning formula.  They have managed to sustain themselves with chapters all over the country since 2000 and they have done it by quietly building an infrastructure that focuses on their core values without necessarily worrying about face time on television.  Their movement is one that requires feet on the ground and building relationships with members of Congress that are responsible and reasonable.  They have participated in many legislative victories and have endorsed many successful candidates.  The Tea Party could learn a lot from this example, but I don’t believe they will.

The biggest problem the Tea Party will continue to suffer from is Sarah Palin and the extremist views of the vocal minorities that are running this movement and their potential to ruin it.

There is change a coming, that is for sure and how that will manifest itself will become clear very quickly, but the promised storm the Tea Party promised didn’t materialize how they had hoped, which is good news for this country.  I know they will be spinning their message today and beyond, and the way they will spin it will not be based in reality, but I am not concerned about that.  We can deal with the shift in power in the House easily enough, as we historically have many times and we will survive this.  But we will now not have to concern ourselves with a legislative disruption of the Tea Party agenda that would surely have moved us further from growth and progress, which will be hard enough as it is now.  Fortunately for all of us the vast majority of Republican’s weren’t fooled enough to give away our future to a movement that still hasn’t defined itself in a way that makes people comfortable.

For now, I will take that as a victory for all of us, but the real fight lies ahead for Democrats and how they move forward with their agenda and message.  If the Democrats have only learned one thing by this election and the Tea Party movement let it be this:  America will do as they are told.  It’s time to start telling America what you are doing and stop thinking they can figure it out on their own, as yesterday proved.  Sometimes, especially in politics, the Party that yells loudest wins.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at tony@mediatony.com and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me..


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