Thomas Hayes

Editor, journalist, political consultant, and former Congressional Campaign Manager Thomas Hayes

According to Reuters, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Behner, is becoming a target for Tea Partiers who may resort to “primary” challenges for Republicans who have failed to adhere to absolute ideals while working in Congress.

“Born in the days after Obama took office in early 2009 in a wave of conservative anger at corporate bailouts… the Tea Party movement has come a long way in just two years.”

Indeed, the allegedly grass-roots Tea Party is now led by Dick Armey, whose salary substantially exceeds that of any elected official in either party in Washington, including the President. Yet this is one of those rare moments in U.S. politics when certain voters are remaining engaged enough to scrutinize the discrepancy between what’s said during the campaign and what’s done in D.C.

Then, too, they have the misguided sense that the GOP has all the power in the House, now, since for so many cycles these same voters were tutored to believe that Democrats were simply having their way when they held the majority in Congress. Who can blame them for thinking their “side” shouldn’t need to compromise?

If the Republicans lose the debt limit battle, more Tea Party groups say they will aggressively seek candidates to challenge establishment figures in the 2012 primaries.

At this point, all of them are potential targets,” said Dawn Wildman, president of the SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, who lives in San Diego. “All the way up to Boehner.”

The fundamental reality is that ideals and principles can’t solve the budget, although they can inform the goals and influence the outcome. The Constitution enshrined a non-dictatorial approach to governance, replete with oft-noted checks and balances. The role of government is not to enact the ideals of any one politician (or party) any more than it is to take a hands-off approach to lead-tainted toys or let Wall Street insiders prey upon the rest of us.

For too long the message echoing from the national GOP was over-simplified as they sought power for its own sake. Now they’re being held accountable for producing more than rhetoric, expected to align speeches and sound-bites with actions in ways they haven’t had to until recently. I applaud the voters they’ve counted on (some would say mislead, or even exploited) for continuing to pay attention despite assurances from Armey and the Rove-inspired message machine that Republicans are their only hope.