As we close in on the final three weeks before what promises to be an exciting, and quite possibly historic, election. The Tea Party phenomenon that grew from mere sign-carrying protest ralliers last year has grown into a major political force this year. There's little doubt that Tea Party activists made the difference in Scott Brown's surprise victory in Massachusetts this January, and that Tea Party activism was responsible for the primary victories of Sharon Angle in Nevada, Mike Lee in Utah, Ken Buck in Colorado, Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, among others.
Two of those races, however, stand out as the two most important political races in the country in 2010:
Sharron Angle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada and Christine O'Donnell against Chris Coons in Delaware. Those two will either stand as the definitive proof that this year is more than just a wave election, that it marks a sharp shift in the national political consciousness — or it will mark the return of the powerful interests to the thrones of power after a troublesome skirmish with unruly and unsophisticated political amateurs.
Obviously every Senate race is important, with the majority and thus Committee chairmanships and all sorts of related spoils in the balance. But those two, Nevada and Delaware, have the greatest symbolic significance. First, we're talking about the Senate Majority Leader and the Vice president's senate seats. But more than that, the candidacies of Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell represent not merely a potential shift of power from Democrat to Republican, but from the professional political establishment to the new Populism of the Tea Parties. That makes it is more than political; it is cultural.
In their new book titled "Mad As Hell," pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Shoen make the argument that what is occurring in our country in this political season is even more significant than a so-called wave election. It's not just a rejection of big government, overspending, running up the debt and intrusion into the private sector with a healthcare takeover, and bank and automobile company bailouts, although it is all of those also. What's happening is an entirely new and unprecedented populism. Unlike past populist movements, however, Rasmussen and Shoen argue that this new populism is much more broad-based. It's a recognition that the people have lost power, and with the loss of power, the loss of ideals and values, the loss of the American Dream.
That's not conservative versus liberal, although it certainly tilts towards the conservative viewpoint, and it's not Republican versus Democrat, although, once again, it certainly tilts towards the Republicans. It's frustration with the entrenched and self-dealing power structures of political parties and of governmental institutions. The people are saying, wait a minute: our government has gotten out of hand. We need to stop the spending increases, the tax increases and the debt increases. We may even need to wipe the slate clean. We may need to scrap the tax code. We may need to rethink entitlement programs. And if we are going to accomplish things on that large a scale, we need an entirely new team, a set of new faces. That will be our national narrative if Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell win, even if the Senate majority remains Democratic. But if those two lose, it will mark the triumph of the system over the people. This year, we have a chance to change the national trajectory in a more sweeping way than perhaps at any time in our lives. We need to vote for the candidates in our state and Congressional Districts who understand and revere our Constitution and its design for a federal government of strictly limited powers. But we need to do more than that. We also need to do everything that we can to help Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell. You decide whether that means sending money or giving of your own time and talents — but you need to do something to help them both. Theirs are the two most important political races in the country.
This has been Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring for American Radio Journal. Visit us on the web at Let Freedom Ring USA dot com.