Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unintended consequences

Mike Castle's run as an elected official stretches back to 1966 and includes two terms as Delaware's governor. Considered a moderate Republican, the 71-year-old Castle has served his state in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993.

Yesterday, Castle lost the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Joe Biden.

While we should honor his contributions, we need not mourn his defeat -- it's time he retired anyway. I mean, if we're going to get The Revolution underway, we need new faces in government. And if those professional politicians and long-toothed incumbents won't step aside, dammit, we should vote them out of office.

In this case, unfortunately, Delaware Republicans have given us a cure that's worse than the disease --
Christine O'Donnell, a 41-year-old marketing consultant and political pundit who's best-known for promoting sexual purity. Seriously.

Addressing supporters last night after her victory, O'Donnell beamed,

"You guys are the visionaries and leaders who made this possible."
By "you guys," no doubt she was referring to endorsers Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, Michelle Bachman and (natch) the Tea Party Express.

Yikes -- that's a scary bunch of wingnuts, for sure, but I'll give credit where it's due. O'Donnell's campaign vanquished the national Republican establishment, which threw everything but the kitchen sink behind Castle and still lost. Generally speaking, I celebrate whenever one of the dominant political parties goes down hard.

Who else is celebrating? None other than Chris Coons, the Democratic Party candidate. Here's what greets visitors to Chris Coons for U.S. Senate this morning:

There's also a rather pointed statement, which begins,
"With Christine O'Donnell, we face an ideology rather than a record. One of Sarah Palin's newest 'Mama Grizzlies,' O'Donnell will fight to roll back a woman's right to choose and lead the charge against stem-cell research, falsely claiming that this ground-breaking research exploits women. She has a record of supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians, and pressing for public schools to teach creationism."
Democrats should wait 'til after the general election to break into a Snoopy dance but, given the stark choice between a centrist Democrat and fringe-dweller O'Donnell, in a state like Delaware it's all but certain that Coons will prevail.

That's the rundown -- but what's really happening here?

Citizens are righteously pissed at our dysfunctional government. We're expressing our anger by shunning incumbents, insiders and establishment-backed candidates in favor of fresh political blood. Because the American electorate can't break its addiction to ideologues, however, the transfusion is hopelessly tainted.

"Throw the bums out" serves The Revolution, in my opinion, only if the alternative is independent of mindless ideology and dominant political parties.

The Tea Party, in its early days, was on the right track. Its focus was on constitutional principles and a libertarian approach to governing -- until, that is, it was polluted by ultra-conservatives and co-opted by the Republican Party.

The result, sadly, is typified by Christine O'Donnell -- a unelectable, anti-libertarian, right-wing extremist.

In a perfect Delaware, Republican primary voters would've had an intelligent, truly independent alternative to Mike Castle. They didn't.

Even worse, it appears, they wouldn't have known the difference.

Oh, they meant well, but when they chose a nutjob like Christine O'Donnell, they signaled to a troubled nation that
The Revolution may need to be postponed -- indefinitely.