By Dick Morris - 03/11/14 05:40 PM EDT
Establishment Republicans always remind us of how the Tea Party cost the GOP crucial seats in 2010 and 2012, which might have delivered control of the Senate to the Republican Party. And, they have a point. If Tea Party candidates had not won primaries in Delaware, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana and Missouri, these states might now be sending more Republicans to the Senate.
But, consider the alternative. Had Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzPriebus, Trump 'surprised' Cruz suspended campaign Trump blasts George Will as a ‘major loser’ Trump: VP pick 'most likely' elected official MORE (R-Texas), Mike LeeMike LeeReid: Cruz, Lee on Supreme Court should 'scare you' Cruz: Boehner unleashed his ‘inner Trump’ Senate pressured to take up email privacy bill after overwhelming House vote MORE (R-Utah), Rand PaulRand PaulGOP operative Ed Rollins joins pro-Trump super-PAC Overnight Energy: Clinton makes her pitch to coal country Rand Paul calls on Clinton to apologize for coal job losses MORE (R-Ky.), Marco RubioMarco RubioAgainst all odds: It’s Trump How Trump did it Different playbooks for Ryan, McConnell in wild 2016 MORE (R-Fla.) and Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonTrump ticket looms over vulnerable GOP senators Koch network super-PAC launches ad buys in Wisconsin, Nevada Senators urge White House to speed cyber policy updates MORE (R-Wis.) not won their primaries, imagine how lifeless the Republican minority in the Senate would be. The party’s current intellectual and ideological cutting edge has come from Tea Party primary victories.
Would we prefer mute Bob Bennett as the Republican senator from Utah, or the outspoken Mike Lee?
In Kentucky, would Trey Grayson, unknown and undistinguished, have been a better spokesman for our party than Rand Paul?
Would the go-along, get-along Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have been anything close to the dashing, charismatic figure cut by Ted Cruz in Texas?
And in Wisconsin, one can only wonder if anyone other than Ron Johnson could have upended Russ Feingold to take the Senate seat in that liberal state.
Day in and day out, it is these firebrand Tea Party senators who are dominating the conservative benches in Washington. Add to their ilk the likes of Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags Many Republicans uninterested in being Trump’s VP: report GOP warms to Trump MORE (R-Ala.), James InhofeJames InhofeThree more Republican senators to meet with Supreme Court nominee Senate unveils B waterways bill with aid for Flint 0 million Flint aid package included in water bill MORE (R-Okla.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTurf battle erupts over hot cyber issue Judiciary Dems seek hearing on voting rights Reid: Judiciary a 'rubber stamp' for Trump-McConnell MORE (R-Iowa) and David VitterDavid VitterSenators aim to bolster active shooter training 5 takeaways from Mike Lee’s leadership bid Republicans demand shift in Obama’s ISIS strategy MORE (R-La.), and you have accounted for the most active, ideologically confrontational and politically effective members of the Republican Senate minority.
On the state level, has there been a governorship that better embodied the potential of Republican change than that of Scott Walker in Wisconsin? He has shown us all how to win the education issue for the GOP and has let us all see how curbing public-sector unions can return government to the people.
The fact is, like it or not, the Tea Party is the soul of the Republican Party.
There is no better example of the need to have the Tea Party continue its cleansing of the U.S. Senate than the looming primary in Mississippi. Thad CochranThad CochranFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika MORE (R-Miss), 76, has been the leading pork dispenser on the Republican side of the aisle for decades. He once vied for the honor with Alaska’s Ted Stevens; now he has it all to himself. Silent on major national issues, rarely heard from in the Senate, he stands as an apostle of the old ways, pursuing increased government spending with all the vigor of a Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) or Scoop Jackson (D-Wash.) of a bygone era. Without a scorecard, you couldn’t tell which of these old-fashioned senators is a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative.
We will not return to national power by electing faceless, nameless Republican senators who do not stand up and never fight hard.
The passivity of the Republican minority in the Senate is the stuff of legend. But the Tea Party members have changed all that and deserve our thanks and commendation.
Sometimes, the amateurs of the Tea Party lead us astray. No one can deny that Missouri, Indiana and Delaware would be represented by Republicans had the Tea Party not nominated candidates who made themselves unelectable. And it is probable that we would have won seats in Nevada and Colorado as well but for Tea Party primary victories.
But a lifeless, soulless GOP would be no inspiration to anyone.
Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Johnson, Lee: These names light up our sky and animate our party. Where would we be without their star power?
Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.