Last night, hopes of a Tea Party insurgency were squashed as Thad Cochran put down the biting usurper, Chris McDaniel, who sought to unseat the six-term GOP Senator. Though the defeat was narrow, it was a decisive victory that showed the Tea Party is not as powerful as they would have the world believe; they are merely loud.
The race in Mississippi had been embroiled in the sort of zero-sum, anything-goes tactics that the Tea Party so readily and heartily embraces. The party has made it an aspect of its brand to practically endorse a “the ends justify the means” approach to politics in this country. Cochran’s dismissal of the far-right charlatan is recognition that such tactics are still unwelcome.
Toward the close of the race in Mississippi, the Tea Party, and its candidate, McDaniel, were caught in so many scandals that it was a surprise that they weren’t being investigated for felony charges (in some cases ,they were). Instead, overzealous party supporters and misleading polls showed that the scandalous candidate had a chance to claim the Senate seat. Having a supporter of his candidacy found to have broken into the care facility of Cochran’s ailing wife and photographed her and fumbling to, or members of the campaign being locked overnight with the ballots still wasn’t enough to convince everyone that McDaniel has no business in the Senate.
It’s true that the Republican Party has been facing an internal threat, a schism really. Within the GOP, far right extremists have been eating away at the center of the party. Ultimately however, the Tea Party’s “rise” (if it can be termed such) is more analogous to the growth of cancer than the rebirth of an ideological base.
Cochran’s victory in Mississippi is a sign that, even in a deeply red state, extremism and fanaticism will not always win. Other red states would do well to not give up hope that they can keep down the spread of the Tea Party.