“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”
It's no longer the Republican Party of your father or grandfather. One has to laugh ruefully at the hubris of the mainstream GOP (conservative as it already is) in assuming it could co-opt the grassroots Tea Party movement and ingest it into the “big tent.”
This may end up looking more like the gnat wagging the party by its elephantine tail. Too late, the establishment turned on the upstarts and attacked them mercilessly, not realizing that every calumny leveled at them was tantamount to an endorsement in the eyes of angry primary voters.
The phenomenon defies all the standard, cynical political logic. These extremists can’t win in the general election, say the experts. Don’t people have any sense? Do they have a death wish?
The experts are playing by the wrong set of rules. Those who voted for the Tea Party candidates don’t care if they win, and they have no particular affection for the Republican Party in its current form. They would rather go down in defeat now, knowing that having flexed their muscles as an internal force, they will drag the party even further to the right the next time.
Eventually, Americans will be forced to vote for the new breed of conservatives because they have no other choice except (Horrors!) moderate Democrats. Moderate Republicans, practically extinct today, will have ceased to exist.
Then, both houses will be filled with members whose sworn oath it is not to cooperate with anyone who does not agree with them in every way.
You think we have gridlock now? In a few years, our current session of Congress will look like a Girl Scout sing-along by comparison.