The smallest minority in any given population is the individual. The Tea Party in specific and grassroots politics in general, came out of the woodwork to protect that minority. They rose up to defend the individual’s right to speak out, to bear arms. They continue to rise up to defend the individual’s right to not pay for someone else’s laziness, healthcare, or birth control. The Tea Party, thus, is a disorganized but passionate group of individuals rather than a top-down organization with a central leader.
Today the Tea Party Express (which is NOT “The Tea Party,” though some see it as such) threw individuals under the wheels of its very own well-intentioned tour bus. They came to Missouri to endorse Sarah Steelman for the Missouri Senate. This is not to say that Sarah Steelman is not qualified for the position or even to say that I personally dislike her, because neither of those things are true. The problem here is that the Tea Party Express is doing that which the Tea Party writ large detests: telling individuals who should be the winners and losers before the race begins in earnest. If effect, they have subsidized Solyndra before validating the technology.
What do I mean by that?
First, filing for the Missouri Senate race has not closed yet. While it may be safe to assume that no one will enter the race in the five days remaining to do so, it is in the same way that it is safe to assume that you might get to the zoo before it rains on a partly cloudy day in St. Louis. The point is NOT whether or not someone will get into the race in the eleventh hour. Rather, the point is that the Tea Party Express has chosen a winner before giving anyone that chance.
Second, there are two other legitimate conservatives already in that race, and the Tea Party Express has decided that they have the authority to decide which of the three contestants are relevant. They have decided that John Brunner is not relevant, even though his excellent business record, strong debate skills and no history of Washington corruption make him the kind of candidate that Tea Party activists love to (individually) rally behind. They have also deemed Todd Akin unworthy of their time, despite the fact that he is currently a member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, he is one of the most conservative congressmen to ever serve a day in Washington, and he even went toe to toe with George W. Bush over TARP.
The Tea Party Express, though in some cases it acts in accordance with the Tea Party, has in this case acted prematurely. It has steam-rolled right over the individual the Tea Party rose up to protect, taking on the role of the dreaded “establishment” and anointing candidates who have yet to rally the support of the individuals who make up their base.