Friend and foe alike see the Tea Party as not just a bunch of politicians trying to stay in office, but people with a purpose beyond going along to get along. The left's desperate -- and dishonest -- efforts to discredit the Tea Party show that they understand its threat to their expanding government agenda.
The question is whether the Tea Party itself still has its eye on the ball -- the goals it was formed to serve -- or is letting itself get preoccupied with its battle against other Republicans.
Heaven knows there are Republicans who deserve criticism. But neither fervor nor ego can justify wholesale challenges to Republican incumbents in next year's primary elections. The end result of such a self-indulgence is likely to be getting more Democrats elected, making repeal of ObamaCare virtually impossible. We can only hope that this is not what the Tea Party has in mind, not only for their sake, but for the sake of the country.
A haunting example from history was the doctrinaire wing of the abolitionists, who ran their own presidential candidate in the 1860 elections, even though he had no chance of winning, and simply split the anti-slavery vote, so that Abraham Lincoln got just 40 percent of the popular vote when he won in a crowded field.
The doctrinaires were willing to risk a pro-slavery candidate being elected President of the United States at a critical juncture in history, which would have condemned millions of human beings to more decades, or perhaps generations, in slavery.
Whatever your principles, you have to weigh human consequences from whatever you do in the name of those principles.
There are millions of Americans today who are losing their insurance and their doctor -- and who may also lose everything financially to identity thieves, if ObamaCare is as careless with their private information as early reports indicate. These Americans are infinitely more important than internal battles among Republicans.
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