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When a failing company burdened with entrenched, visionless executives is challenged by insurgent entrepreneurial leadership from outside the corporation, expect those in privileged position to do whatever it takes to cling to power regardless of what is best for the company and its customers.
That, in a nutshell, explains the animus expressed by Republican establishment candidates toward Tea Party insurgents who have scaled the walls of the GOP fortress and reclaimed the tower in the name of fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government.
In Delaware, Christine O'Donnell won handily against longtime Rep. Mike Castle, whose votes for TARP and a massive, regressive tax on energy ("cap and trade") made him utterly unacceptable to a citizen movement defined by the values of personal accountability, not bailouts, and limited government, not job-crushing tax hikes.
Having embraced an unacceptable champion in Castle, some GOP leaders have imprudently taken to attacking the voters of Delaware for their uninformed judgment. But now Christine O'Donnell faces an unreconstructed big-government liberal in Democrat Chris Coons. Coons once described himself as a "bearded Marxist," and as an elected executive in New Castle County has imposed massive tax hikes after promising not to as a candidate.
In Alaska, Joe Miller won fair and square against incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Now she refuses to accept the will of the voters, reflecting a sense of entitlement befitting the heir of her father's Senate seat.
Serving up a heaping helping of sour grapes, Sen. Murkowski now completely mischaracterizes Miller's stands as "dump Social Security, no more Medicare, let's get rid of Department of Education, elimination of all earmarks . . . an approach that is just plain and simple more radical of where the people of the state of Alaska are."
When she attacks Miller's opposition to politically defined spending earmarks, his respect for our Constitution and the rule of law, and his belief that bankrupt entitlements should be fixed for future retirees, she sounds exactly like the big-government Democrats who are currently running our economy and our country into the ground.
And so it goes. One-time Republicans have been happily switching parties at the very moment they find the voters of their party inconveniently standing between them and their manifest destiny of guaranteed incumbency.
Dede Scozzafava did it in New York's 23rd Congressional District, endorsing her Democratic opponent when she determined that she could not win against a credible conservative. Sen. Arlen Specter "the Defector" became a Democrat when he saw that he would loose to Pat Toomey in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist also bolted the party, becoming an independent, when he proved unable to compete against Marco Rubio's genuine fiscal conservatism.
The betrayals are always justified as in the best interests of "the people," but the voters know self-service when they see it.
Political parties can be empty vessels, but the true political impact of the Tea Party has been to rehabilitate the Republican Party, filling it with good ideas based on fiscal responsibility and limited government, and the candidates that stand for these principles.
Tea Partyers say the government should not be spending money it does not have, and should not take over auto companies, banks or our health care system. That's not even slightly extreme, and represents the very center of political opinion in America today.
Now that primary season is over, expect the good men and women of the Tea Party to turn their attention to the Democrats, and to political accountability for failed stimulus spending, $2-trillion-dollar deficits, double-digit unemployment and the particularly arrogant way government-run health care was jammed through Congress against the will of the American people.
President Obama is now directing his once-vaunted political machine, Organizing for America, to launch a concerted attack campaign against the Tea Party between now and Election Day. This is the same organization that just last year described the good men and women of the Tea Party movement as "domestic terrorists" for having the audacity to show up at congressional town hall meetings and express their opinions about the future of their health care.
Expect the new attacks to follow Saul Alinsky's 13th rule of Chicago-style politics: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it." We hope they do. While such thuggish tactics might work well on a hapless CEO being shaken down and turned on the class-warfare spit, it is hard to imagine a successful campaign whose target is millions of motivated Americans whose only sin is showing up and participating in our democratic process.
The attacks so far — "phony," "dangerous," "racist," "extreme" — don't ring true in the hearts of the individuals who have been targeted by the Democratic establishment. Every attack grows the community, and weakens a floundering management team's grip on power.
The Tea Party is better than a political party because it is defined by good ideas and American values like individual responsibility and restrained government power. We like to call it beautiful chaos, because this potent community is driven from the bottom up, by voluntary association, much like the spontaneous coordination of individual plans and the maximization of local, personal knowledge through the market process.
Like failing CEOs, the political establishment doesn't like it one bit. They will kick and scream all the way to the full restoration of political accountability. But we suspect our Founding Fathers would heartily approve of a citizen revolt intent on taking America back from an arrogant political class that grows government power at the expense of the public welfare and individual liberties.
Armey is chairman and Kibbe president of FreedomWorks. They are co-authors of the recently released "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto," published by HarperCollins.