Timothy Carney, senior political columnist for The Washington Examiner, notes an interesting distinction between the fiscally libertarian Tea Partiers scoring upsets in political races across the country and their defeated, standard-bearing Republican counterparts:
The economy, taxes, spending, health care, and bailouts dominate the headlines and Tea Party rallies this year. But just beneath the surface, another issue is helping shape the midterm elections: abortion.
The Tea Party insurgency catapulting anti-bailout, anti-Obamacare, and anti-tax hike Republican outsiders past their establishment-backed primary rivals is also helping to eliminate pro-choice Republicans. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the pro-choice money is flowing in.
Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter are the four highest-profile victims of the Tea Party insurgency. All four were pro-choice, with particularly contentious records on abortion. All four lost to staunch pro-lifers.
While the primary focus of the Tea Party movement is on other issues, the revelation that Tea Partiers are more pro-life than old guard Republicans is a hopeful one.
I’d love to know their policy positions, but I imagine it’s safe to assume, based on their small-government message, that they believe the answer to the abortion issue lies in the hands of the people, through the 10th Amendment. Not everyone in the pro-life movement is on board with that approach – in fact, from personal experience I’d estimate that a majority still want to see a top-down, federal solution. Whatever the case, fresh blood, fresh thinking, and an understanding of the way government is supposed to work (which does not include making up rights that don’t exist in the Constitution) can’t hurt the stalled pro-life political cause.
I also appreciate that these candidates are committed to the right to life without beating the big, empty “pro-life” drum that the Republican party has so long used to rally voters without ever delivering real results. As Carney admits:
In 2010, abortion certainly isn’t the driving factor behind Tea Parties, but the Tea Party’s Senate lineup is 100 percent pro-life. Every insurgent GOP Senate candidate who bucked the establishment to win the nomination — Miller, Rubio, O’Donnell, Toomey, Ken Buck in Colorado, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Mike Lee in Utah — is dedicated to the pro-life cause. The Senate ringleader of this rowdy bunch is DeMint, a passionate pro-life conservative. The only establishment pick to survive the Tea Party surge this fall was Kelly Ayotte in New Hamphire, whose name was on that state’s lawsuit attempting to undo some Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion.