On February 18, Richard Viguerie, the godfather of the New Right, announced the creation of the “Liberty Prize”—a $10,000 award for the Tea Partier with the best plan to wrest control of the G.O.P from “establishment big government Republicans.” Viguerie’s website, ConservativeHQ.com, explains: “Limited government, constitutional conservatives … at the grassroots level have the ideas and principles, as well as the numbers, political skills and talent to run the GOP. What we have lacked is a coherent, well-thought-out blueprint for taking over the Republican Party.”
Democratic political operatives believe Tea Party purges weaken the G.O.P.’s electoral prospects. They point to the hard-right congressional candidates who lost last November.
But these liberal strategists fail to appreciate that the Tea Party’s ideological discipline, nurtured by Republican incumbents’ fear of being “primaried,” has turned the Boehner House into a formidable and effective obstacle to Democratic initiatives. Republican intransigence may disaffect some voters, but it excites both the Tea Party faithful and the wingnut donor class.
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