Dick Morris: The soul of the GOP

Dick Morris: The soul of the GOP
© Greg Nash

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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (R-Texas), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 New act can help us grapple with portion of exploding national debt MORE (R-Utah), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOn The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week Trump declares national emergency at border Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans MORE (R-Fla.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate 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.

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Would we rather have Charlie Crist, now running as a Democrat, in the Senate from Florida, or Marco Rubio?

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 SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' MORE (R-Ala.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOn The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency Foreign Affairs chairman: US military intervention in Venezuela 'not an option' MORE (R-Okla.), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 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 CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy 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.