Resuscitating the elephant

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By John Barnhart

    A cup of tea seems to be just what the Republican Party needed.

    After the 2008 election, Republicans seemed shell shocked. They lost control of both the House of Representatives in 2006 in a donkey stampede. Unable to come to grips with why voters rejected them, they got nailed again.
    The Tea Party breathed new life into them in the following years. Republicans got nailed because they ruined their brand during their tenure from 2001 through 2006, the party of fiscal responsibility and small government ran up the largest deficits in history, to that point, and carried out a substantial expansion of government. George W. Bush presided over the greatest per capita increase in federal spending since LBJ’s Great Society in the ‘60s. The Tea Party, along with exciting the Republican base, helped them rebuild their ruined brand in an astonishing period of only two years.
    Of course, people still remain skeptical. Pre-election polls indicating that people who preferred giving control of Congress to Republicans gave the Republican Party low approval ratings. The polls also gave “Democrats” low approval ratings — evidence that voters aren’t happy with what either major party has given them.
    Now, it’s up to Republicans to make a good faith effort to do the things they have promised to do. There’s solid evidence that shows that this is what voters want. The performance of Tea Party backed candidates indicates that there is a lot of public support for the Tea Party agenda of smaller government and lower taxes.
    Tea Party backed candidates did very well in the election, with 80 percent of them winning. There were a couple of high profile failures, such as Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino, but there were also some high profile victories. Senator Russell Feingold, a three-term incumbent from Wisconsin, was defeated by Ron Johnson, a businessman who had never sought elective office before. In Kentucky, Rand Paul took the Republican nomination away from a Senate candidate hand-picked by party stalwarts, and then won the election. In Florida, Marco Rubio defeated both a “Democrat” and Charlie Crist who had bolted from the Republican Party to run as an independent after it was obvious that Rubio was going to win the Republican nomination.
    As I’ve written for the last two years in this space, the United States is a center-right country. The “Democrats” were punished in this election for trying to ram its left-wing agenda down our throats. The Republicans were punished in the previous two elections for failing to stand up for the center-right principles that they had always told us were Republican principles.
    I hope that the Tea Party folks will remain active. They are needed to make sure that the Republican Party knows it won’t get away with nominating RINOs, and to make sure that none of the newly elected Republicans grow nose horns once they get to Washington.
    I also hope that Tea Party folks will learn from the mistakes they made this year. They have got to look in potential candidates’ closets to make sure there aren’t any skeletons ready to come tumbling out. They also need to be aware of any outlandish statements that candidates have made in the past, which will certainly come back to haunt them on the campaign trail.
    One thing’s for sure. The Tea Party deserves hearty congratulations for reviving a comatose elephant and yanking the rug out from under the “Democrat’s” liberal agenda.