NASHVILLE —There's a well-worn saying in politics that “elections have consequences.”
In 2008, Barack Obama was elected president. In 2010, eight months after the Affordable Care Act was passed into law and signed by President Obama, Republicans took back the House. They had a shot at winning a Senate majority, except that Tea Party Republicans in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado nominated kooky candidates who lost races in which the GOP had been overwhelming favorites.
The “rubber match” occurred in 2012. Not only did President Obama win reelection despite a tepid economy, but the Democratic Senate majority actually increased to 55-45 after another wave of Tea Party Republicans — including Indiana's Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin in Missouri and another safe Republican Senate seat in Maine — went into the Democratic column. U.S. Sens. Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe were shoved aside or forced out.
If Republicans had nominated candidates with the right “temperament,” instead of sidelining incumbents and candiates who weren't ideologically pure enough, the U.S. Senate could have been 51-49 right now and Obamacare might truly be on the ropes.
What we're seeing in Indiana and nationally is a Republican Party that doesn't recognize it lost the crucial rubber match.
After the 2011 redistricting, hundreds of U.S. House seats were drawn that created safe redoubts for Republican congressmen and women. These districts are whiter than America, more conservative than America and with this creation, these Members have little fear of losing a November election.
What they do sweat is being “primaried.” U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon has been targeted by the Club For Growth (just as Sen. Lugar was two years ago), and there are potential primary challenges facing freshmen U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski and Susan Brooks because Tea Party factions don't deem them conservative enough.
Thus, Indiana has gone from sending “statesmen” to Washington and out into the world, to creating “primary candidates” who are using their offices to fend off party fratricide in May.