I was listening to talk radio this morning and wound up shaking my head at the thought that Richard Lugar, the highly conservative, republican senator from Indiana is getting a serious primary challenge this year. Now, understanding that Senator Lugar has a 96-98% conservative voting record in congress, any sane individual would think that the challenge would come from the senator's left, especially since there was so much room for a candidate to go on that side. But no. In the crazy world of 2012 republican tea party politics, you can be one of the most conservative senators in the country and still not be pure enough to meet tea party standards. You can still be a RINO. It begs the question. How right do you have to be in order to be right enough for the tea party?
Can you be a republican in today's republican tea party if.......
- you support equal pay for women?
- you support public education?
- you want to see an energy policy that utilizes other forms of energy besides fossil fuels?
- you support equal rights for all regardless of gender preference?
- you support limited gun control?
- you support a smaller military?
- you support some higher taxes to decrease the national debt?
- you support a national health care policy?
- you support a government run social security and medicare program?
- you support working with the other party on cooperative legislation?
The answer to all these questions increasingly appears to be no. The farther right a politician moves, the farther right the tea party expects the politician to be. They have ousted almost every republican moderate and have managed to end the career of Senator Bennett and now they are going after Senator Lugar.
The question is how far can the tea party go? They have expelled any republican who thinks differently from them. They have increasingly divorced themselves from the mainstream of American politics. They are on the way to making the republican party a fringe right party in the political scene. There are countless republicans and independents who are feeling the need for a republican party that represents a moderate America. There will come a time, in the not too distant future, that a new moderate republican party rises from the ashes of the tea party. As the tea party becomes an extreme rightist party, there will probably be a center right republican party and a center left democratic party. The only thing that the tea party will have succeeded in would be to have placed a party of the extreme on the ballot in most states. It will, as most extremist efforts, make too many turns toward oblivion, and wind up falling off the edge of the world.