Where does the Tea Party movement go from here? Do they continue on, do a little maturing along the way and prepare to be a player again in 2012?
Peggy Noonan delivers some advice on the reality that the Tea Party coalition will have to come to terms with not only looking for and supporting candidates who are "new" on the national scene but those who are practical choices, too. Yes, practical. Supporting candidates who understand conservative talking points but are not able to capture an audience, not able to get the message across without the audience questioning an ability to win will not be a winning strategy.
A common mistake made by the Tea Party is that the members are prone to dismiss out of hand a candidate as "the establishment" or "RINO" which has also proven to be a loser for them. There is no such person as a "RINO" and "the establishment" won many races with Tea Party support - Governor Rick Perry in Texas, for one. He is definitely "the establishment" who learned to win over the Tea Party folks early on. Originally the Tea Party was leaning towards Debra Medina, a Republican woman on her first venture into major state office. She didn't suffer complete humiliation but she couldn't survive against seasoned politicians. She did ok for her first time out.
Electable doesn't mean not-conservative. Electable means mature, accomplished, stable—and able to persuade.
The challenge is to whom will the Tea Party turn for guidance? Do they continue on with the likes of Sarah Palin, who is first and foremost a Republican in her philosophy - note her endorsements of John McCain, Rick Perry, over "Tea Party" candidates - yet, calls Ronald Reagan "an actor" as she justifies her less than smart choices in venues. She appears on entertainment gossip shows to pursue celebrity, not political heft. She shows her ignorance and the fact that she doesn't get it when she makes flippant remarks.
The point is that Reagan's career is a guide, not only for the tea party but for all in politics. He brought his fully mature, fully seasoned self into politics with him. He wasn't in search of a life when he ran for office, and he wasn't in search of fame; he'd already lived a life, he was already well known, he'd accomplished things in the world.
Here is an old tradition badly in need of return: You have to earn your way into politics. You should go have a life, build a string of accomplishments, then enter public service. And you need actual talent: You have to be able to bring people in and along. You can't just bully them, you can't just assert and taunt, you have to be able to persuade.
Let's take Christine O'Donnell's race in Delaware, for example.
Christine O'Donnell experienced a humiliating defeat because she was not ready for the job. She made bad decisions along the way and she was not able to overcome the results. Then, she turned around and waged war on the national party and some of the experienced - read successful - operatives in the party structure. Not smart. Persuade your detractors, don't berate them. O'Donnell was a perpetual political candidate in Delaware - that should have been a red flag for those who backed her candidacy in the primary and endorsed her.
No whining. We don't like it in President Obama and we don't like it within our own party, either.