Much of the mainstream news media can’t wait for tea party-backed candidates to lose their races, pack their suitcases and disappear. Heavily prompted by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s big primary victory over challenger Matt Bevin in Kentucky, press and pundits have rushed the narrative along, declaring the grass-roots movement to be frail, irrelevant or worse. Of course, declarations that the tea party is dead proved premature once before. It could happen again, and the tea partiers themselves still have some very staunch, high profile defenders.
Meanwhile, here’s a sample of headlines from the last 24 hours.
“The tea party isn’t just losing, it’s losing badly” (The Washington Post); “The tea party takes another hit” (The Hill); “Time for conservatives to ditch the tea party?” (National Journal), “GOP sees primaries taming tea party” (Wall Street Journal); “Weak tea” (The Week); “Tea ‘party’ over as business wins Republican primaries” (Business Week); “The tea party is dead. Long live the tea party” (Mother Jones); “Tea party loses steam as the economy improves” (USA Today) and “The tea party dead? Nah, that’s just a flesh wound” (The Daily Beast).
“On one side we hear the tea party is done, dead, stick a fork in it, because its candidates aren’t successful. Not too long ago many were singing the praises of Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse, who won his primary in the Cornhusker State. Now, after Tuesday, the sentiment is that the tea party isn’t an influencer and irrelevant,” says author and former Florida congressman Allen West, a Republican.
He also thinks the tea party remains “the boogeyman — the Alinsky target of the liberal left” who don’t want a repeat of the 2010 midterms.
“The thing is, it’s not about individual candidates, but about influencing a policy agenda - and that’s what makes this conservative grass-roots movement so very viable. How is it that anyone can disagree with the fundamental principles of America; limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual sovereignty, free market system, strong national security, and traditional values?” Mr. West reasons.