I've known some really good politicians in my time, people who really knew how to hammer out coalitions and get things done. It wasn't always pretty, of course, but they managed some semblance of actual governance and moved the ball down the field. The Tea Party gang has an entirely different problem: A base made up of voters who don't accept that compromise, by definition, is inherent in a political process.
That sort of binary thinking is killing this country.
Now, you have a group of freshman Congress members who won election by promising that things were black and white, and they're going to be punished for illustrating that, as extreme as they were, they have to compromise on at least some things. It would be funny if I wasn't dreading an even more extreme crop the next time:
It is miles to go before the 2012 Congressional races begin in earnest, but already some of the 87 freshmen who helped the Republicans win back the House last year are bracing for a challenge from within the party. At least half a dozen potential primary challengers to freshmen are considering a run, and there is heated chatter about more.
In some ways, the freshmen are responsible for their own predicament. Many won their seats after successfully challenging establishment Republicans in primaries, proving that a combination of gumption and the right political climate could overcome the advantages of incumbency.
Now, to some of the impatient and ideological voters who sent them to Washington to change things, the new House members may be seen as the establishment, and they face the disconcerting prospect of immediately defending themselves in the political marketplace.
The 2012 primary “started the day I took office,” said Representative Blake Farenthold, who won last year in a heavily Democratic district in South Texas but is now likely to face a Republican primary challenger. “There is this constant pressure for fund-raising. I mean, you’re always worried about who is going to run against you, but I am willing to stand up for what I believe and on my record.”
[...] On the flip side, groups aligned with the Tea Party movement, which helped push many new-to-politics candidates into House seats, are disenchanted with some of their new hires and are pondering if they can raise the money, and the firepower, to find someone to take them on.
“I do think it is going to be more competitive,” said Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. “With the freshmen who claim to be Tea Party or claim to support the ideas of the Tea Party movement but haven’t kept their promise, I think it will be tough for them.”
Ms. Martin said she regularly fields e-mails from New York Tea Party groups, as well as others in Georgia and Mississippi, complaining about freshmen House members who voted for a disappointing short-term spending agreement with President Obama that fell short of the party’s budget-cutting goals. “They have broken their promises,” she said. “People are dissatisfied.”