Dear Mitt supporters, if you’re like me, then someone in the last few days has called you a “RINO” or worse for supporting a candidate who’s pro-life, supported cut, cap, and balance, is strong on border security, and wants to repeal Obamacare. My theory? These ideological witch hunts are killing the Tea Party. Over at Patheos, I make the case:
By mid-2011, Tea Party popularity had turned upside-down, with significantly more Americans viewing it unfavorably.
Tea Party defenders blamed the media, and they were right — at least partly. The invective and slander kept spewing from the Left, with labels like “extremist,” “racist,” and “violent” used virtually as talking points. But something else was happening, something far more dangerous to the long-term health of the movement.
For many activists, the focus changed — moving away from making constitutional arguments to the American people against Obama’s excesses and towards a vicious ideological battle within the Republican party. Peruse popular conservative websites, and you’ll see writers calling fellow conservatives “gnomes” and some of the most popular even banning dissent from their comment boards. On talk radio, hosts are attacking other conservative candidates with unrestrained ferocity. In a strange turn of events, a conservative can agree with a fellow conservative on every major substantive plank of conservatism and still be labeled a “RINO” if their tone isn’t angry enough or if they support a different Republican in the primary.