“His political platforms were only the wings of a windmill . . . His celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman.”
Sinclair Lewis’ line in It Can’t Happen Here describes a fictitious candidate who leads a populist-tinted corporate takeover of America. In other words: a tea party dream.
Lewis could just as well be speaking about Allen West, Ted Cruz, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and any number of love interests of America’s extreme right this election season.
West, the Florida congressman, famously announced he “heard” that 80 members of Congress, give or take, are Communists. Well, OK, then.
He said more recently that the “Forward” slogan of the Obama campaign is shorthand for a “Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme.” Well, thanks for alerting us.
Cruz rocked the Republican establishment in Texas when he won the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in a contest with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Among other things, Cruz has ranted about a “dangerous United Nations plan” (the Rio Declaration sustainability principles) by which the U.N. would dictate the abolition of American “golf courses, grazing pastures and paved roads.” I know I'm gripped with fear. How 'bout you?
Akin, the Missouri GOP Senate choice, has educated us on the difference between rape and “forceable rape,” the latter resulting in magical uterine responses that prevent impregnation.
Add an “amen” to Mourdock, who defeated six-term Sen. Dick Lugar for the Indiana Senate nomination. Mourdock this week said that if a women is impregnated by a rapist, the resulting child would be “something God intended.”
What do these clanging cymbals have in common? They share adoration of the tea party, and corporate backers, of course.
Collectively for the GOP, they are a portrait of what President Obama has observed of the once-moderate Mitt Romney. Like his party, he's had “an extreme makeover.”
Well, you betcha. These are heady times for Americans who found their voice in the voices in Glenn Beck’s head.
Listen to West and Akin, both already in Congress, and know how thin the line is between national elected office and sleeping on a grate.
The only problem for the GOP is that moderate Americans are in fact listening. In state after state, tea party-backed candidates have blown Republican chances to gain ground.
It happened in Nevada in 2010 where a vulnerable Sen. Harry Reid turned back scary tea party wonder woman Sharron Angle.
The GOP rightfully should have taken the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado the same year. However, instead of nominating very-electable former lietenant governor Jane Norton, it chose tea party-backed Ken Buck, who lost to vulnerable Democrat Michael Bennet.
Tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle in the ’10 GOP primary for U.S. Senate, then opened her mouth once too often, much like Mourdock and Akin, and got trounced by Democrat Chris Coons.
The race in Florida between West and Democrat Patrick Murphy is one of the nation’s most interesting. Murphy, a Republican repulsed by West’s extremist statements and the rightward drift of his party, switched parties to take on West in a newly drawn district.
In Texas, where the GOP’s grip on state government is monolithic, everyone assumes Cruz, U.S. solicitor general under George W. Bush, is a lock against very solid Democrat Paul Sadler. That may be the case this time, but like the other extreme voices increasingly being rejected, Cruz offers an opportunity sooner rather than later for Democrats to take back the Senate seat previously held by moderate Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, and before her that centrist of centrists, Lloyd Bentsen.
Right now the tea party thinks it hung the harvest moon. What it doesn’t realize is how many voters' ears its wolfen howl is hurting.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.