Let’s not ignore yesterday was not only a referendum on the President but also on the Tea Party. Do voters connect with candidates who hold empty or fanatical political positions? The answer is a resounding no.
The most-publicized Tea Party-backed Senate candidates lost—O’Donnell (DE), Angle (NV), Miller (AK) as well as the superrich political novices Fiorina (CA) and McMahon (CT) who got swept up in the same excitement. Americans realize the importance of the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Transportation even if they’re not entirely sure what they do. Most realize that cutting the taxes on the rich isn’t a form of economic stimulus. And many of us don’t question the Civil Rights Act of 1964—except perhaps in Kentucky where Rand Paul won.
Of course, other Tea Partiers talk a big talk but avoid thorny political issues entirely. You see, having positions—when radical in the state you’re running to represent—can make you less palatable or even downright toxic (see Fiorina on abortion). Take Angle for instance, she repeatedly dodged the question-bearing press while secret donors funneled tens of millions of dollars into advertising for her. She lost too.
Who’s at work here? The sane and silent majority. We don’t form political nonprofits or attend political rallies or even write to our congressmen. We don’t threaten our representatives who make unpopular votes, at least not in public. Many of us are angry too—except not in a crazy, “I want to burn this motherfucker down” kind of way.
In New York State, voters en masse turned down Paladino’s offer to take a baseball bat to Albany. Not least of all because he alienated minorities, women, and gays. He even insulted Orthodox Jews by tempering remarks he made days earlier about just how unnatural and repulsive gays are in order to woo them over. This guy is nuts.
Where do we go from here? The election margins, especially once stripped of party-line voters, were decisive. Despite the enthusiasm gap, disillusionment with incumbents, and stubbornly high unemployment, anyone Sarah Palin sees fit to endorse is virtually unelectable.
The sane and silent majority wins again. Don’t try to contact us, we’ll be in hibernation for the next two years.