Also published on The Huffington Post
Check out Kate Zernike’s piece in the Times today for a glimpse of how the Republican establishment is “shaping tea party passion into [a] campaign force” — or at least, how they’re trying to. The article profiles the efforts of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks to “turn local Tea Party groups into a standing get-out-the-vote operation in Congressional districts across the country,” in part through a series of trainings that would be right at home in the 2008 Obama grassroots operation. But this paragraph shows what game is actually afoot:
Its candidates are libertarians and economic conservatives, but in the 2010 midterm elections, FreedomWorks is urging Tea Party groups to work for any Republican, on the theory that a compromised Republican is better than Democratic control of Congress.
So much for an independent force in American politics! Voting for a “compromised” Republican is exactly the kind of decision that should be anathema to Tea Party idealists, since it’s a classically cynical political calculation. Regardless of their rhetoric and their libertarian-heavy reading list, Armey’s army is essentially trying to channel the Tea Partiers’ anger into a form that furthers the ambitions of the broader Right.