Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Of course, the internet is abuzz with discussion of Tea Party extremist Christine O'Donnell's upset victory of Mike Castle in the Republican primary in Delaware.

People have different views on this. The most interesting debate is whether this is good for the Democrats or not. Yglesias says not really:

A lot of people I know are excited about O’Donnell’s surge since it gives Coons—who’s much more progressive than either—the best shot. My view is that that kind of partisan view is a little short-sighted. Both parties are destined to govern approximately half of the time and what matters most is the strength of progressive ideas in either party. The increasingly rigid conservatism of the GOP is a huge impediment to progressive causes and Castle’s problems reflect that.  

Jamelle Bouie agrees with this:

The Republican Party's rigid conservatism is completely inhospitable to progressive ideas, and a federal government dominated by these figures and a Republican White House is vastly more likely to start needless wars and redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top. A GOP raised on lies and mired in extremism is helpful in the short-run but dangerous for the future; liberals don't have to help moderate Republicans -- or even like them -- but they should at least appreciate their value.
Lemieux dissents:

Given that if he won Castle could be expected to vote as a teabagger when it matters, isn’t it better not only for the Democrats but for electoral accountability if an actual unapologetic teabagger runs for the seat, rather than the bait-and-switch the Republicans preferred?

Given all this, on the proposition that Democrats should be unhappy about a certain near-term advantage because of speculative long-term effects that a Castle win in the primary wouldn’t have done anything to advance anyway, I vote “no.” O’Donnell’s win is, in fact, excellent news for the Democrats.

I think the basic answer is that everyone is right here. There's no question that Castle's loss is a huge win for the Democrats. The Tea Party has killed Republican chances of picking of the Senate.

Or at least, I think they have. The reality is, no one knows what's going to happen this year. I really believe with Yglesias that the extremist takeover of the Republican Party is horrible for America. The media always presents two sides to every story. When one side is insane or extreme, it legitimizes it.

Let us review the climate change debate for a refresher on how this goes:

Reporter: Mr. Climatologist, is climate change for real?

Mr. Climatologist: Almost certainly. The vast majority of scientific evidence suggests that humans are causing a rapid change in the Earth's climate. Not a single peer-reviewed article suggests otherwise.

Reporter: Very interesting. Mr. Skeptic, what do you think about this evidence?

Mr. Skeptic: Absurd. We used to ride dinosaurs! Also, Jesus. Hey, there's some play-dough I can eat!

Reporter: You've heard both sides of the debate. What do you think?

These Tea Party ideas are presented pretty much the same. Rand Paul and Christine O'Donnell legitimize extremist ideas for the public. This is terrible for the nation in the long-term

Plus, there's always the chance that some of these people get elected. Paul is almost certainly going to win. Sharron Angle in Nevada may well do so. Delaware is neither Kentucky nor Nevada, but while O'Donnell probably loses, I wouldn't discount her ability to build a grassroots campaign and at least make it close.

Of course, as Lemieux points out, you can't predict the future with too much confidence. What seems good now may be terrible in the future. Or the other way around. And really, Castle and O'Connell would have voted the same 90% of the time anyway.

So it is a Democratic victory in Delaware. But one that I do believe has ominous overtones for the future.