If and when those conservatives and libertarians who compose the bulk of the Tea Party, decide that the Republican establishment has yet to learn the lessons of ’06 and ’08, choose to follow through with their promise [to form a third party], they will invariably be met by Republicans with two distinct by interrelated objections.
First, they will be told that they are utopian, “purists” foolishly holding out for an “ideal” candidate. Second, because virtually all members of the Tea Party would have otherwise voted Republican if not for this new third party, they will be castigated for essentially giving elections away to Democrats. Both of these criticisms are, at best, misplaced; at worst, they are just disingenuous. At any rate, they are easily answerable.
Let’s begin with the argument against “purism.” To this line, two replies are in the coming. No one, as far as I have ever been able to determine, refuses to vote for anyone who isn’t an ideal candidate. Ideal candidates, by definition, don’t exist. This, after all, is what makes them ideal. This counter-objection alone suffices to expose the argument of the Anti-Purist as so much counterfeit. But there is another consideration that militates decisively against it.
A Tea Partier who refrains from voting for a Republican candidate who shares few if any of his beliefs can no more be accused of holding out for an ideal candidate than can someone who refuses to marry a person with whom he has little to anything in common be accused of holding out for an ideal spouse. In other words, the object of the argument against purism is the most glaring of straw men: “I will not vote for a thoroughly flawed candidate” is one thing; “I will only vote for a perfect candidate” is something else entirely.
As for the second objection against the Tea Partier’s rejection of those Republican candidates who eschew his values and convictions, it can be dispensed with just as effortlessly as the first.
Every election season—and at no time more so than this past season—Republicans pledge to “reform Washington,” “trim down” the federal government, and so forth. Once, however, they get elected and they conduct themselves with none of the confidence and enthusiasm with which they expressed themselves on the campaign trail, those who placed them in office are treated to one lecture after the other on the need for “compromise” and “patience.”Read the whole thing. Before the tea party movement was hijacked by Republican party hacks, there was a moment at which it appeared to hold the promise of a real movement for political independence from the misrule of the Republican and Democratic parties. This latent possibility remains, and, the longer self-described tea party activists continue to demonstrate a slavish allegiance to the Republican party, the greater will be the contradiction between the so-called "tea party movement" and its historical forebears in the American revolution. The Boston Tea Party, after all, was part of a radical movement for political independence from an unrepresentative and tyrannical government. How do we save the legacy of the Boston Tea Party from today's Tea Party Tories?
Well, when the Tea Partier’s impatience with establishment Republican candidates intimates a Democratic victory, he can use this same line of reasoning against his Republican critics. My dislike for the Democratic Party is second to none, he can insist. But in order to advance in the long run my conservative or Constitutionalist values, it may be necessary to compromise some in the short term.