"Purity for Profit"

Tom D has a roundup on the GOP’s sure-to-fail semi-grassroots Senate primary challengers. It’s a cutting piece, much of it deserved — but I’m of two minds on this one.


On the one hand, winning elections doesn’t mean very much if it means sending go-along-to-get-along politicians to Washington. We have years and years of bad legislation in need of repealing (when that’s possible) or trying to fix (when that’s all that’s possible). This country needs more people like Mike Lee, and he was one of those Tea Party challengers to the status quo.

Of course, Lee might be a special case, having had to fight in Utah’s odd convention system, against a moderate GOP Senator who always seemed a particularly bad fit for his deep red state.

There’s also the Fear of God effect even a decent challenger can put into the heart of an all-too-comfy incumbent — a sharp reminder of whose interests they’re supposed to serve.

But… jeebus the grassroots does attract some seriously unserious candidates with no business running for statewide office — enabled by the “purity for profit” organizations which support them. The amount of brand damage just one of these jokers can do is measured not in campaign seasons, but in years.

A political party though is the sum total of its membership, not just the pros in Washington and the state capitals. And sometimes, you just have to fight with the army that shows up.

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