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The GOP's Tactical Radicalism and Its Dem Enablers

[Guest Post by Noam Scheiber:]

Just a quick data point in support of Chait's excellent post about the increasing tactical radicalism of the right--the belief that ideological purity is perfectly consistent with (in fact, the best recipe for) electoral success.

Politico reports today that:

With the official formation of a congressional Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann has thrust an existential question before House Republican leaders: Are you in or are you out? ...

Minnesota’s Bachmann, a favorite of the tea party movement, earned approval from the Democratic leadership for her caucus late last week. It came as a bit of a surprise to her leadership, whom she didn’t forewarn before formally applying to create the caucus. ...

Indeed, the tea party movement is a loaded political weapon for Republicans heading into the midterm elections.

Until now, they have had the luxury of enjoying the benefits of tea party enthusiasm without having to actually declare membership. But now that Bachmann has brought the tea party inside the Capitol, House Republican leaders and rank-and-file members may have to choose whether to join the institutionalized movement.

In most cases, there's a kind of implicit alliance between tactical radicals of one party and the establishment of the other--both are gunning for the same thing, albeit from different directions. (One recalls Karl Rove cheering on Howard Dean during the 2004 presidential primaries.) But in this case the alliance was nearly explicit: The tactical radicals in the House wanted to form an organization that would create all sorts of headaches for the GOP leadership, and the Democratic leadership worked with them to expedite the process. Nicely done.