The Democrats love to hate Rush Limbaugh, and yet they are now taking a page right out of his playbook. Republicans remember well in 2008 when Rush implored listeners to take part in what he dubbed “Operation Chaos.” The plan was to encourage Republicans and independents to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, in order to deny Barack Obama the nomination outright and create a chaotic, free-for-all at their convention. In other words, a brilliant game of sabotage.
Rush’s plan didn’t quite work, but the Democrats hope to improve on the concept with, let’s call it, “Operation Rope-a-Dope.” Their strategy consists of finding candidates to run as Tea Party candidates against moderate or weakened Republicans in various primaries. The obvious goal is to drain incumbent resources and weaken them in a general election against a Democratic challenger. In an ideal situation, the fake “Tea Party” candidate would actually be successful in their primary bid, and then lose in the general election. This might be one of the only ways the Democratic Party might be able to claim victory in safe GOP districts.
It’s happened before. This is exactly what happened in 2010 when with Ken Buck ran against Jane Norton in Colorado and, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware against Mike Castle; and in 2012 with Todd Akin and Sarah Steelman in Missouri.
And it’s happening now. The plan already appears to be underway. In Kentucky an unknown candidate claiming to represent the Tea Party is challenging Senator Mitch McConnell. After he likely prevails in the primary, McConnell will be faced with his most challenging race to date against Hollywood darling Ashley Judd. In Texas, a similar situation is developing against Republican Senator Jon Cornyn, whose primary challenger is looking very suspicious based on his single-issue motivation. We’re bound to come across more of these examples.
Believe it or not, but in this regard, Karl Rove was correct when he stated, “We want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.” Where Karl gets it wrong is he is assuming that when a person declares themselves a Tea Party candidate, their values are automatically in line with the Tea Party Movement. This is something akin to former Senator Chuck Hagel saying he is a Republican.
The saddest part is these candidates don’t have a clue that the Democratic Party is using them as pawns.
If there’s something positive with the Democrats “rope-a-dope” strategy, it is that it should make those moderate Republicans in office start returning back to conservative principles instead of voting with the other side. Those who do consistently vote on behalf of the Constitution won’t be challenged in their primaries.
There are many great reasons why the Tea Party should be a grassroots movement without a National Governing Body. That said, the lack of an organization means anyone can declare himself or herself under the Tea Party banner. It doesn’t take vetting or screening. Vague promises about upholding Tea Party principles of supporting the Constitution and its founding principles of limited government, free markets and personal responsibility are good enough more often than not. And so, politicians make promises aplenty during the campaign and then turn their back on them the minute they are in office.
The lessons are clear. Never trust at face value a label that the candidate is publically pushing. Do your own research into their voting record. Pull the candidate’s campaign disclosure form. Cross check to make sure that any of the donors (especially the major ones) are donors to other conservative candidates and projects. Most importantly, talk to the candidates directly and pose serious questions. See if they give thoughtful answers or if they feebly mouth talking points.
At last resort, contact one of the many national Tea Party organizations to see if they have any background or involvement with that candidate. Many times, volunteers with an organization will help you do research on that candidate and will even appreciate your making them aware of who is running under the Tea Party title.
In 1974 Muhammad Ali took on archrival George Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali’s strategy was to let Foreman swing away until he exhausted his energy. Foreman appeared to be delivering what looked to be dangerous blows to Ali. In reality, Ali was saving his energy. In the eighth round, Ali delivered the knockout punch to the exhausted Foreman. By quietly supporting phony primary battles in key races, the Democrats hope to do the same thing – watch Republicans swing away at each other and then wait to deliver a knockout blow themselves. Don’t let them do it.