The Tea Party movement scored decisive victories this week in the Republican primaries for Delaware Senate, where Christine O'Donnell defeated long-time GOP favorite Michael Castle, and for New York governor, where Carl Paladino trounced Rick Lazio. These two Tea Party electoral successes have already spurred some intra-GOP warfare, with Karl Rove taking a beating for his warning that O'Donnell might be too far right to win the general election. Either way, the Tea Parties are here. Several pundits are now writing on how Americans, and American politics, should respond to this conservative movement.
- Bringing Politics Back to Center The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan says that Tea Party wants to pull the center of American politics back to the right where it belongs. "The dangers, both present and potential, are obvious. A movement like this can help a nation by acting as a corrective, or it can descend into a corrosive populism that celebrates unknowingness as authenticity, that confuses showiness with seriousness and vulgarity with true conviction. Parts could become swept by a desire just to tear down, to destroy. ... Will the center join arms and work with the Tea Party? That's a great question of 2012."
- It's All About Democrats The New York Times' David Brooks waves away the debate about Tea Parties versus GOP establishment. "Voters are upset about the economy, the debt and the culture of Washington. The Democrats are the party of government and of the status quo. They have done their best to remind people of that. ... Right now, the Tea Party doesn't matter. The Republicans don't matter. The economy and the Democrats are handing the G.O.P. a great, unearned revival. Nothing, it seems, is more scary than one-party Democratic control."
- Tea Party Legacy Will Be Organization, Not Politics The National Journal's Jonathan Rauch writes, "In American politics, radical decentralization has never been tried on so large a scale. Tea party activists believe that their hivelike, 'organized but not organized' (as one calls it) structure is their signal innovation and secret weapon, the key to outlasting and outmaneuvering traditional political organizations and interest groups. They intend to rewrite the rule book for political organizing, turning decades of established practice upside down. If they succeed, or even half succeed, the tea party's most important legacy may be organizational, not political."
- Right-Wing Remains Crazy, But Finally Representative Salon's Glenn Greenwald says the Tea Party is "dominated" by the same people and policies that "drove the country into the ground for the last decade, merely re-branded under a new name." However, intra-GOP fighting could be a good thing. "All sorts of right-wing extremism is tolerated and even revered in Beltway culture provided it comes from the Right People. A Washington political/media culture that rolls out the red carpet for every extremist Bush official is now suddenly offended by these Tea Partiers' extremist views? Please. What's most frowned upon is the inclusion in their circles of those Who Do Not Belong. Hence, the noses turning upward at Christine O'Donnell's lower-middle-class struggles and ordinariness as though they disqualify her for high office. If anything, one could make the case that those struggles are her most appealing -- perhaps her only appealing -- quality."
- Why Dems Should Be Wary The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie concedes that while this is a "strategic victory for Democrats" because Tea Party candidates are easier to defeat in general elections, "this isn't actually the best outcome." Eventually, the Republicans will regain control of Congress and the White House. When they do, Democrats should prefer a moderate Republican rather than an extremist Tea Partier.