Jonah Goldberg

Over the last year, there's been a lot of Beltway talk about how the "tea parties" are really "Astroturf" activists in the employ of the GOP. If that were the case, they certainly wouldn't have taken down Bennett.

The whole country is in anti-Washington, anti-incumbent mood. That's better news for the party out of power, the Republicans, but it's not necessarily good news for incumbents.

Heck, what better way to prove your sincerity than to opt for some new blood, less tainted by seniority and connections?

We're seeing the same trend in Pennsylvania, where Arlen Specter is running as a Democrat because the Republican Party had enough of Specter's soulless opportunism and politics-as-usual tactics. The funny thing is that Pennsylvania Democrats seem fairly fed up with that sort of thing too, which is why Specter's challenger, Joe Sestak, looks poised to defeat the White House's preferred candidate. Incumbents in West Virginia and Arkansas are having similar problems.

Independents, too, seem fed up, which is why they delivered stunning victories to Republicans in off-year elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts. And it's why New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent $92.60 on every vote, only to barely win re-election.

The one place where the winds of change seem to be blowing the weakest -- for now -- is the state where they are needed most. In nearly bankrupt California, Barbara Boxer is opposed in the primary by the quixotic blogger Mickey Kaus, who has been frozen out by the Democratic Party.

It's certainly plausible that the GOP is tacking too far to the right, but that rightward shift is a natural and healthy response to Washington's abrupt -- and largely unpopular -- leftward shift since 2008. In D.C., the coin of the realm is "seniority and connections," and it is that currency that bought us the calamitous state of the country. Ironically, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were elected promising to "change the way Washington works." For the powers that be, the more frightening and tangible lesson from Utah might well be: "This time we mean it."

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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