Just when Tea Party obituaries were being sounded around the country, Washington fixture of 42 years, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, loses to upstart Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel.
And one week later, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, in the blockbuster of this year’s political season, is booted out of office in the Virginia Republican primary by an economics professor from Randolph-Macon College, total undergraduate enrollment - 1,312 students.
Turns out that reports of the death of the Tea Party are greatly exaggerated.
According to the New York Times editorial page, writing about Cantor’s defeat, the Tea Party is “producing candidates who are light-years from the mainstream.”
Many continue to harbor and sell the illusion, nurtured by media sources like the New York Times, and reaching sometimes to even the Wall Street Journal, that somehow there is a “mainstream” in American politics today and that anyone with strongly held conviction, who actually cares about that conviction, is an “extremist” or “ideologue” and not part of this “mainstream.”
But if mainstream means not clearly on one side of the political spectrum or the other, a new report from Pew Research shows that what is supposedly mainstream today is not mainstream at all. The report, “Political Polarization in the American Republic,” shows that it is now the minority of Americans who are not clearly on the left or the right.
Only 39 percent of Americans define themselves in the middle, as a mixed bag of liberal and conservative values. The majority of Americans, the other 61 percent, see themselves as on the liberal left or the conservative right. Thirty four percent say they are mostly or consistently liberal and 27 percent say they are mostly or consistently conservative.
Just ten years ago 49 percent – ten percentage points more – defined themselves in the mixed middle.
The New York Times would like us to believe that there is a “mainstream” in America today because what “mainstream” means is status quo – don’t rock the boat. Because of the massive growth of government over recent years, today’s status quo means acceptance of a great lurch leftward, which has already occurred.
It sounds so measured and sober to call a candidate “mainstream.”
But “mainstream” is not measured and sober.
It means shrugging your shoulders at $17 trillion in federal debt, $4 trillion in federal spending, and a tax code of over 73,000 pages.