A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
November 3rd, 2010
By Tom Carter
“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” That famous quotation from American football legend has been attributed to Vince Lombardi, but it probably came first from UCLA coach Red Sanders. Whoever said it first, it applies to politics even more precisely than to football or other sports.
Why is winning the only thing in politics? Because if you don’t win, you have no chance to do any of the things you wanted to do in office. You can’t come back next week and play again, hoping to improve your win-loss record. Losing in politics means you probably have to wait several years to try again, and you carry the “loser” reputation for a long time, further diminishing you chances of winning in the future.
The Tea Party movement, the engine of the current conservative resurgence, would do well to remember this simple wisdom. There’s no denying the broad success of the conservative movement in yesterday’s election. There were losses, however, that were completely unnecessary.
Harry Reid should have been the most important target for conservatives. He was the face of the Senate, the most powerful Democrat in the nation after Nancy Pelosi. And he was beatable. He was (and is) deeply unpopular in Nevada, and any reasonable Republican candidate could almost certainly have beaten him. Taking him down would have been the biggest coup of the election. But no — the Republicans nominated Sharron Angle, a brain-dead extremist candidate with Tea Party backing. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, and Harry Reid will continue to be the Senate Majority Leader.
In Delaware, Chris Coons cleaned the floor with Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate for the Senate. She got the Republican nomination by defeating Representative and former Delaware governor Mike Castle. Coons, fairly or unfairly known as “the Bearded Marxist,” was widely thought to be very vulnerable. Castle had a good chance of beating him. O’Donnell, a true goofball with a room-temp IQ, was never even in the game.
I don’t believe the Tea Party, as a movement, is racist or extremist, even though it’s a natural home for the few conservatives who are. It does, however, espouse a strong strain of conservatism of the kind that can result in sacrificing success on the altar of ideological purity. That resulted in the survival of Harry Reid and promotion of “the Bearded Marxist” to the lofty status of United States Senator.
Republicans, including those who ally themselves with the Tea Party movement, have to do some serious thinking between now and the 2012 election. That will really be the Super Bowl, when not only Congress but the presidency itself will be at stake. If the Republicans succumb to the siren call of ideological purity and nominate someone like Sarah Palin, Barack Obama will beat her handily unless he a) decides not to run or b) wears Muslim garb for the State of the Union speech.
How many Tea Party conservatives have a warm and fuzzy feeling about Angle and O’Donnell in the cold light of this morning? Those who do ought to get out of politics because they’ve forgotten, or never knew, that winning is the only thing.
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