Yesterday afternoon, National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar wrote a fantastic article praising the impact on the diversity of Tea Party-minded politicians:
For Republicans who believe the tea party is responsible for the GOP’s struggles, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to choose Rep. Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate would have come as a stunner. The nation’s second Indian-American governor appointed the only African-American who will be serving in the Senate come 2013. And not only are they both Republicans, they are tea party-aligned conservatives who took on the party establishment and won.
It’s ironic that at a time when party strategists are publicly panicking over the party’s need to diversify or face extinction, they’re blind to the reality that if it wasn’t for the much-maligned tea party, the Republican Party would be even more homogeneous than it is today.
Kraushaar decimates the establishment’s thinking on diversity, noting that Tea Party-minded candidates are gaining relatively wide support for their principles:
Rubio, a fresh young Hispanic face who called for entitlement reforms in his 2010 campaign, nonetheless comfortably carried the Hispanic vote in Florida. Susana Martinez, running a conventionally conservative campaign for governor, won in heavily Hispanic and Democratic-leaning New Mexico that same year. Scott, a tea party conservative, won a handful of Obama supporters in both his general election campaigns, outperforming Romney by four points in 2012.
But the most devastating criticisms of the Republican Party are at the end of the piece:
Why can’t party campaign committees work to identify local officials or community leaders who best reflect the face of a diversifying America? Why don’t parties spend resources on Major League Baseball-like scouts who pore over states to encourage the next Mr. (or Mrs.) Smith to come to Washington? If popular reality shows like American Idol can identify the next big singing star, surely party leaders could be resourceful enough to find under-the-radar political outsiders with an interest in shaping public policy.
And in his closing:
…[T]he tea party provided a playbook for how it can be done. Forget one’s political history and reputation. Stop obsessing over which candidates can raise the most money, increasingly an anachronism in today’s super-PAC fueled political environment. Look for qualified outsiders who can put the best face forward for a Republican Party, with a message centered on opportunity. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott proved it can be done, and they are now two of the most powerful officeholders in South Carolina–in the heart of the old Confederacy.
In Washington, it’s often said that one has to go along to get along. That’s why when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) opposed renewal of provisions of the Patriot Act to uphold a campaign promise, he was accused of just trying to get attention. It’s why Speaker Boehner purged four fiscal conservatives from two influential financial committees. It’s also why too many in Washington compromise their principles over and over in order to – as Senator Coburn (R-OK) noted in his book “The Debt Bomb”– wait until the perfect moment to stand on principle. Of course, that perfect moment rarely arrives.
The Tea Party was founded on principles of fiscal responsibility and constitutionally-limited government. We don’t look at who your father was, or how rich you are, or what your skin color is. Principles are blind to all of that. We want America to flourish, and look forward to working with Senator Scott and any other Tea Party-minded officials to make that happen.