It’s always a good idea to bring fruitcakes to a tea party. At least, that’s the way it seemed this weekend in New Hampshire, when the fruitcakes on the far right of the Republican party assembled to perform in front of an audience of 700 gathered together by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Citizens United, at the first annual Tea Party “Freedom Summit.” Present were Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Utah’s Mike Lee and other wild-and-crazy would-be candidates and spokespeople for the far right of the Republican party.
Here’s the context for that meeting. Tea Party and its allies are so far zero-for-everything in running candidates in 2014 Republican primaries in House and Senate races around the country. What seemed like an unstoppable wave of rightist frenzy in 2010, when the Tea Partyers managed to elect a lot of folks to Congress, has virtually collapsed. By helping odd, fringe candidates win nominations, especially for the Senate in 2010 and since, the Tea Party has guaranteed that Democrats were able to hold onto the Senate majority, and in 2014 the Republican establishment is determined not to let that happen again, since this year the GOP has a real shot at retaking the Senate. So the Tea Party finds itself pitted against that establishment in primaries across the country, and it’s losing big. In 2016, the GOP mainstream, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, The Wall Street Journal and others, aren’t going to let the Tea Party hijack its presidential candidate either.
So the Tea Party’s Freedom Summit in New Hampshire is nothing more than an exercise in irrelevancy. None of the candidates who appeared there have a prayer of being elected president, especially when matched against Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street–funded, foreign policy hawk–dominated, Establishment-backed juggernaut. And the GOP, Sheldon Adelson included, has figured that out.
According to The Washington Post, the big stars at the Freedom Summit were Ted Cruz, Mr. Government Shutdown, and Rand Paul, the kooky libertarian-isolationist who dearly wants to eliminate America’s entire social safety net, including Medicare and Social Security. But Trump weighed in, too, and he made news when he ridiculed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for his support for immigration reform. The crowd booed and hissed when Trump said that Bush had said last week that immigrants often come to the United States as “an act of love.”
And here was Paul’s message, accusing the GOP establishment of being weak-willed:
Some say we just need to dilute our message, let’s just be a little more like the Democrats. You think that’s a good idea? Hogwash. It’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Our problem isn’t that we are too bold. Our problem is that we are too timid.