Tuesday was, as expected, a thoroughly hideous night for Democrats. But the Tea Party lost, too. Thanks to rightwing insurgencies during the primaries, the Republicans’ forfeited a number of races they might easily have won, or at least competed in—the Delaware Senate race, the New York governor’s race, and, above all, the Nevada Senate Race. The Tea Party saved Harry Reid, and the Democrats’ Senate majority.
Certainly, there were Tea Party victories, but they were concentrated in districts that were already deeply conservative, and that would have gone Republican anyway. The Tea Party may have made the GOP more conservative, but it also made the party’s national margin smaller than it might have been.
• Election Reactions from Beast writersOf course, it was still distressingly large. But there were hints of consolation in the defeat of wretched Tea Party characters like Ilario Pantano, a House aspirant in North Carolina. A former Marine, Pantano faced charges of premeditated murder after killing two Iraqis; an investigating officer called his actions “morally and ethically wrong" and a "disgrace of the armed forces." Naturally, the right saw him as a hero against the Islamist menace: Sarah Palin described him as a “dedicated patriot,” while Muslim-baiter Pamela Gellar called him one of the “great Americans who understand the grave threats facing America in the twenty-first century.” His loss is a cheering bit of evidence that even in our lunatic political environment, there is still such a thing is too crazy.
So while ugly, the night could have been even worse. It’s almost tempting to be thankful to Palin, and her baseless conviction that a majority of Americans are on her side.
Michelle Goldberg is a journalist and author based in New York. Her first book, the New York Times bestseller "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” delved into some of the reddest precincts of the United States to expose the ascendant politico-religious fundamentalism dominating the Republican Party. It was a finalist for the 2007 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. Goldberg's second book, “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World ,” explored the international battle over reproductive rights, and argued that the liberation of women is key to solving the planet's most urgent problems. It won 2008's J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. Goldberg has reported from countries including Uganda, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, India and Argentina, and her work has appeared in Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation, New York, The Guardian (UK) and The New Republic among many other publications. Her third book, about the world-traveling adventuress, actress and yoga evangelist Indra Devi, will be published by Knopf in 2012.