This year, or next year at the latest, the GOP must decide whether its reason for being is to help govern the country or to avoid being primaried by the Tea Party. It cannot do both.
The problem is simple; it's the solution that assuredly boggles the minds of those GOP pols who know what they're now doing is borderline treasonous. No, I don't know how the solution can -- or if it even will -- play out; that is, I'm no influential GOP insider, so I can't possibly know how much pressure the GOP's residual structural integrity can bear -- how the party can wring itself and the nation out of the contemptible fix into which it has contorted matters.
What I do know, without any doubt, is that for all the GOP talk about President Obama being the one who needs to lead, it is precisely the opposite case, here, that is far more critical. Which is to say, GOP leaders must choose between their country and radical, tea party politics -- and if the former, then that will require real leadership.
Yes, the Tea Party has struck fear into the hearts of GOP politicians. And many of us are waiting for ANY of them to stand up and lead their party back from this madness. As of yet, I don't see any of the current elected officials doing that (some who got dumped over the last two years are - but very few people are paying attention to them). As we watch their presidential contenders, even their candidates that the press likes to call "serious" are pandering as hard as they can.
But its also interesting to me to watch the poutragers look longingly at what the Tea Party is doing to the GOP and think progressives should try to emulate them with the Democrats (let me be clear, I'm not making an equivalency argument on policies here - just a strategic one). What is happening is that they are joining the GOP in letting the 2010 midterms spook them.
Since those 2010 midterms created the most change at the state level, perhaps they haven't noticed this:
And perhaps they haven't read the most recent McClatchy-Marist poll.
The poll suggests that the "tea party," the grassroots conservative movement that helped elect dozens of Republicans to Congress last year, has limited influence. Only 8 percent of registered voters said they strongly support the movement and 16 percent said they support it. Among Republicans, 45 percent said they supported the tea party, while 39 percent didn't and 15 percent were unsure.
I, for one, don't want to see the Democratic Party follow the GOP off the cliff they're heading towards. And for that reason alone, I'd say that Obama is providing just the kind of leadership we need right now - as "the only adult in the room."