With the special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat approaching, there is a lot of speculation that Republican Scott Brown’s potential victory in the Bay State may be a sign of things to come for the GOP. Brown, who spouts conservative-sounding rhetoric in the liberal commonwealth, is even being presented as proof that the Tea Party movement is making real strides, nudging the Republican Party to the Right, even in states like Massachusetts where the candidate of the Right might just prevail.
Browsing Scott Brown’s campaign website shows that the candidate doesn’t deviate from safe GOP positions. He’s for tax cuts but says little about spending cuts. He is wishy-washy on abortion, but On the Issues records that as of 2002, Brown felt that “abortions should always be legally available.” His policy positions on Israel and Iran fall in line with those of the Israel Lobby and should make Dick Cheney and the rest of the gang at the American Enterprise Institute happy that a Senator Brown would represent the Republican status quo on foreign policy. As bloggers Carla Howell and Michael Cloud discovered, Scott Brown in practice has proven himself to be the archetypal big government Republican in a blue state.
This makes Scott Brown January 2010’s Doug Hoffman. Hoffman, who ran on the Conservative Party of New York ticket in the special election for New York’s 23rd district in November 2009, was the unofficial Tea Party candidate and generated mounds of enthusiasm among the Tea Partiers, even though he was vague on issues and the ones he did articulate upon were well within the GOP mainstream.
So despite polls showing the Tea Party Movement more favorable than the Republicans, the Tea Party Express’ endorsement of Brown is proof-positive that no matter how bitter they may appear to be at Republicans, the Tea Parties are expected to return to the Republican fold on Election Day. Their support for Brown over the much more libertarian (and unrelated) Joe Kennedy also demonstrates that, so far, the Tea Party movement is not serious about challenging the Republican Party, even from the inside out.
Here’s why. On his Friday radio program, Rush Limbaugh addressed the issue of a third party, an issue that arose during the 2008 presidential campaign, while conservatives were dragging their feet for John McCain:
“[A] Third party, in my view, is the only effort that will derail all the progress and energy and early victories that we've seen in recent months. A third party of the Ross Perot type, the Ron Paul type, bleeds voters away from the Republican Party, not the Democrat Party. . . . The fact that every single Republican senator votes consistently against government-run health care should be a clear indication that we are being heard. The fact that all but one Republican in the House voted against it, does this mean conservatives run the GOP? No. Not yet. But it means we're making progress. It means we're in an ascendancy. . . . And we've gotta stop this third-party temptation. It will only bleed votes from our side.”
“Bleed votes from our side.”
Beneath the surface, this means that despite pleas to the contrary, Rush Limbaugh is a Republican first and a conservative last. A Republican Party that does not have its conservative act together is better than a third party that does. This is why the conservatives who compose the Tea Party movement must finally reject the Republican Party and their faux conservative hand servants or else overhaul them all.
Not doing so is like saying, “Look, I know the Republican Party isn’t perfect, but if we don’t elect Republicans, it’ll be worse. Plus, now that they’re in the minority, they’re voting the right way! I’m sure this means that when the Democrats are voted out of office, these Republicans will vote exactly the same way because they’re principled conservatives now and there’s no way they could simply be partisans voting against their opposition!”
Scott Brown is the latest big government wolf the party and its sycophants are trying to stuff into small government clothing. If he wins on Tuesday, the Republicans will know they can pull the wool over the eyes of the Tea Parties and will gear up for the fall.
Then all of Rush's cited "progress" will truly be lost.
Update: Over at The Humble Libertarian, Wes has a piece up about how conservatives and libertarians are stunningly fawning over Scott Brown, Establishment Republican. Check it out.
Also see the essays by Sean Scallon and William Upton at The American Conservative blog about some inconvenient truths about Scott Brown.