Did yesterday’s abysmal turnout for the American Spring ‘uprising’ leave the real tea party — the dissonant hate group that was always hiding under a veneer of main street acceptability — fatally exposed as an unpopular fringe element? We think so. Organizers failed to draw more than a very few hundred supporters of the tens of millions they had promised, and the biggest applause line we witnessed during the event was an anti-abortion pastor telling “Barry Soetero” to “go back to Kenya.” Chris Hayes more or less summed it up for us last night:
We have noted before that the most successful tea party organizations have been playing a double game by promoting primary challenges, yet always supporting the establishment Republican candidate in the end. What is left of this movement has been fully co-opted, as not a single one of the tea party candidates facing a primary vote next week is ahead in the polls. This should come as no surprise: Republicans have been sublimating the darker aspects of conservative politics for a generation. One sign that the wave of tea party insurgency has washed back out to sea is Ben Sasse, who won his Nebraska race by winning over the endorsement of tea party organizations and described his victory thusly:
The lesson here is about the power of constitutional conservatives getting behind strong candidates who can inspire Tea Party voters while still having a credible background and being able to articulate their positions and vision for their community, state, and country.
In other words, Sasse is able to articulate Cliven Bundy’s position on welfare better than Cliven Bundy, therefore he can motivate the far right fringe of his party to the polls without losing the mainstream Republican voter in the process. Or at least that is the theory. With Democrats currently ahead in races they are not supposed to win, perhaps the most earnest tea party activists are feeling a bit used and a little desperate.