The EFM Feature

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I know that we can’t get too enthusiastic about election victories (or too depressed after defeats). After all, it’s been less than two years since the Left and the MSM were all but eulogizing over the Republican corpse. Things can change. And quickly. But I think it’s okay to allow yourself one night to celebrate . . . and savor.
Some thoughts:
First, my favorite announcement of the entire night was the immediate call of Florida for Rubio. Not only is Rubio one of my favorite political leaders, he beat Charlie Crist. Maybe I’m wrong to hold a grudge, but Crist was not my favorite politician, and his “independent” candidacy seemed to be a textbook example of personal ambition over party and principle.
Second, the Tea Party was the engine that fueled the surge. The Republicans picked up more House seats than either party has gained in 62 years. That’s huge. And there’s simply no doubt that the Tea Party pulled conservatives off the mat in 2009, gave us hope, and provided enormous energy (as well as some excellent candidates). No, the Tea Party did not sweep the night, but could Republicans have done as well without the Tea Party spirit? Not a chance.
Third, I wonder . . . is it better to be a “Tea Party Conservative” or a conservative with Tea Party positions? I think there is a difference. Some of the candidates most identified with the Tea Party insurgency lost — and lost surprisingly big. Others did incredibly well (Rubio, Johnson, Paul). It seems that the common thread of the winners (with the probable exception of Rand Paul) was their ability to break out of the Tea Party niche and run as Republicans endorsed and supported by the Tea Party rather than as something entirely different.
This distinction could be crucial in 2012. I think there’s little doubt that the Tea Party movement is here to stay and (thankfully) will be a major force in the next presidential election, and I can’t see a Republican nominee without substantial Tea Party support. However, I think the nominee won’t necessarily come “from” the Tea Party. He (or she) will be a conservative with Tea Party positions, primarily on fiscal issues. He (or she) will have to straddle both sides of the conservative movement — its establishment and insurgent wings.
Fourth (and finally), let’s roll up our sleeves. We’ve got an incumbent president to defeat, and he’s a heck of a lot more formidable than Nancy Pelosi.

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