The purging has begun. The Tea Party flexed its muscles in Utah as it ousted three-term Senator Bob Bennett in the Republican convention there. The predictable cries came from both the Democrats and Bennett himself.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said it was proof that the Republican Party has now been taken over by the far-right wing. That's a heckuva note coming from a party that sports Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Barack Obama. Calling Bennett one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, Kaine said the ouster demonstrated just how extreme the Tea Party is.
Conservative? I guess that depends on your perspective. Bennett has a lifetime rating of 84 out of a possible 100 with the American Conservative Union but that 16 point spread of disagreement takes in a lot of important territory.
"The political atmosphere obviously has been toxic," Bennett told reporters after the loss, "and it's very clear that some of the votes that I have cast have added to the toxic environment."
For starters, Bennett voted for the bank bailout. For many, including me, that's a deal-breaker. If you fundamentally don't understand how the free market works and you're not willing to trust the capitalist system then you probably don't need to be in office. I suspect many of the 3,500 delegates to the Utah Republican Convention felt the same.
He sponsored his own version of Obamacare that would mandate the purchase of health insurance. He reached across the aisle on the issue of illegal immigration. He voted to ban guns within 1,000 feet of a school, legislation that has arguably made our schools less safe as only law-abiding citizens are likely to obey the law while criminals, especially those intent on killing children, will not.
He voted for Obama's radical regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein. He voted for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer for the Supreme Court. He voted for Thomas Payzant, Assistant Secretary for Elementary Education. This is the guy who drove the Boy Scouts out of San Diego because of their views on homosexuality. Speaking of that, he voted to add homosexuality as a special class in hate crimes legislation.
He voted for allowing the National Endowment for the Arts to fund obscene or anti-religious works with taxpayer dollars. Not to mention that Bennett has also been one of the kingpins of earmark spending.
Need I go on?
Bennett so cherishes his position of prominence that he's considering a write-in campaign to keep his seat. How pathetic. Go home, Mr. Bennett. You're 76-years-old and you promised three terms ago that you would only serve two.
And the Tea Party rejecting someone like this is radical? Sounds rather mainstream to me. Sounds like something our founding fathers would approve of.
Hopefully, Bennett's rejection by his own party is just the beginning. There's a lot more housecleaning that needs to be done in the Republican Party. No longer will just calling yourself a Republican suffice. Candidates will now have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Falling ill with Potomac Fever is no longer an excuse.
It's time to get back to the citizen legislator, as our founders planned. Do your 12 years of service, if you're lucky enough to get re-elected, then go home. We not only need real Americans who come from real American experiences, we need these real Americans to reacclimatize back into the fabric of our country.
The Tea Party movement has never been about just purging our system of liberal Democrats. Anyone who runs afoul of common sense is fair game.