There’s a race for the Republican Senate nomination in Mississippi, and it has turned out to be a surprisingly revealing contest. While Thad Cochran, the genteel six-term incumbent, goes about his normal business of bringing home the bacon and cutting ribbons, his Tea Party opponent, Chris McDaniel, has managed in just a few sentences to define what the Tea Party represents.
Speaking at a gathering of cattlemen, Mr. McDaniel said this:
"Millions in this country feel like strangers in this land. You recognize that, don’t you? An older America is passing away. A newer America is rising to take its place. We recoil from that culture. It’s foreign to us. It’s offensive to us.”
And there you have it. A new America is indeed rising: less white, less rural less socially conservative, less religious; a new America that supports legalized marijuana and comprehensive immigration reform and same-sex marriage. The Tea Party loathes this new America. But there’s nothing the Tea Party can do to stop it.
The Tea Party can damage the Republican Party; indeed, it has already done so. Had it not been for unelectable Tea Party senatorial nominees in 2010 and 2012, Mitch McConnell would already be at or near a Republican senatorial majority. Had it not been for Tea Party opposition, candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination might have been able to come up with a better immigration stance than “self-deportation.”
What the Tea Party cannot do is repeal the laws of demography. All it can to do is yell “No” as its members and beliefs slowly fade away.