Tea Party team players

It is impressive how quickly the Republican Establishment – for whom you know I am said to be the Voice – managed to flip most of the Congressional class of 2010. Remember this when you’re urged to vote Republican in support of small government next fall. Remember this when the Tea Party stalwart tells you that he’s going to Washington to change how things are done there and represent the interests of those who elected him:

The House GOP freshmen were sent to Washington with a mandate from their constituents to rein in spending and put an end to the practice of the federal government borrowing far more than it takes in. But at the end of a furious spending battle that gripped Washington, most of the second coming of the Republican revolution voted for a bipartisan deal that increases the debt ceiling and cuts the deficit, raising the specter of disenchantment and possibly retribution from the activists who propelled them into office last fall.

Some of the tea-party driven supporters will undoubtedly conclude that their freshmen were bought out by the Republican establishment. All told, 59 freshmen voted for the debt bill – two-thirds of the rookie class – and 28 voted against it.

But the freshmen tell a different story of how they came to support the bill, one born out of listening sessions with leadership, an evolution in understanding the economic consequences of a default and opportunities to vote their priorities on the House floor. And, they say, their leadership was able to make them feel enough like valued members that when the time for tough votes came, they were ready to be team players in lending their support.

The Republican establishment has at least 30 years of experience in breaking the freshmen to heel. They did it en masse in 1994 and they’ve done it again now. This is why it is not merely stupid, but by Einstein’s metric, insane, to attempt to change anything by electing Republicans. The Tea Party has to break away and go third party if it is to have any chance at all at reducing government spending.

It probably won’t work that way either, given the changed demographics of the American electorate, but it should be obvious that it is mathematically impossible to effect any meaningful change over time if two-thirds of the “elected revolutionaries” can be successfully suborned within the first year of their taking office.