Enter Ted Cruz
Tea party insurgent Ted Cruz beat establishment(?) figure David Dewhurst in a Texas Senate run-off. As the Atlantic points out, this doesn’t mean squat for the make-up of the Senate, as Texas was sending a Republican no matter what. Here’s what does matter:
Whether there are significant policy differences between [Cruz and Dewhurst] is a matter of some debate. The New York Times noted, “The two candidates differ little on major issues — both call for repealing Obama’s health care law, balancing the budget, abolishing the Department of Education and ending abortion.” But Dewhurst skeptics contend that he has been too willing to compromise with Democrats.
Dewhurst is an establishment figure—of a Rick Perry administration, one of the most extremely conservative of the country; when the establishment figure calls for abolishing the DOE, the word has lost all meaning. But Dewhurst’s mere presence in the political system as lieutenant governor necessitated that he occasionally speak in complete sentences to Democrats, and that was enough to get him on the tea party’s hit list.
Whether intransigence was once a tactic of the tea party’s to effect their policies of severe cuts to social services, or whether it was always a cover, is a matter of debate. What’s clear is intransigence is now an end in and of itself. The Texas GOP is sending a Senator to Washington with the express mandate of not participating in the legislative process except to ruin it.
Also: leading by example.