“It should frighten everyone in leadership…They haven’t been conservative enough. We’ve told them that for 3 years. They wouldn’t listen…Maybe they will listen now.” – Conservative House Republican, speaking with National Journal on condition of anonymity
Yesterday was a day that will live on in infamy. Ok, maybe I’m being dramatic, but yesterday was still pretty incredible. A Tea Party backed candidate defeated one of the most powerful sitting Republican members of the House of Representatives. David Brat, professor of economics at Randolph-Macon College, with little to no political experience, stomped Cantor in yesterday’s primary with 55.5% of the vote.
Since the 2012 election during which many Tea Party challengers lost their races, there has been talk of the decline of the small government revolution that took massive victories in 2010. Of course, the left has the most vested interest in the decline of the Tea Party, because they are terrified of true conservatism, but the Republican establishment (including the likes of Karl Rove) has also been parroting those who have spoken of the Tea Party decline. The establishment has their roots dug in, and they are entirely unwilling to let go.
Back in reality, the Tea Party never really lost steam. As a grassroots movement, they have good times and bad. There is no unifying leader, so it is sometimes difficult to put forth a unified message, and find candidates who support that message. Some allegedly conservative candidates have been unfit for office (though really anyone would be more mentally fit than a Democrat), and have been roundly defeated. Additionally, the establishment routinely outspends Tea Party candidates by millions.
A new strategy has gained steam, however. Popular conservatives are using their clout to endorse other reputable conservative candidates, such as Ben Sassy, and Joni Earnst. These endorsements are helping to offset the massive spending disparity between candidates. All told, it is Laura Ingraham who is largely responsible for the victory of David Brat. She took to the airwaves, and Facebook to get the word out that Eric Cantor was not the anti-amnesty candidate he was trying to convince the voters he was.
This is a stunning victory for true conservatism. Moreover, it is a stunning victory for the Tea Party movement. This election has shown the nation that money doesn’t have to rule politics, and that just because a politician is established, it doesn’t mean they are unaccountable. This is a reminder that the Tea Party is not dead, and that the establishment better watch out.