|Help us help...Libya?|
The Senate has just overwhelming voted to continuing sending aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan. It speaks volumes about what the conservative/Tea Party agenda should be for the next decade.
Let's start with the bad news.
By a vote of 81 to 10, the Senate on Saturday defeated legislation that would have suspended foreign aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya in the wake of the violent anti-American demonstrations in those countries. All 10 supporters of the bill were Republicans.Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul had threatened to hold up all Senate business until the bill was considered. He succeeded in forcing a vote, but couldn’t come close to passage.
Senators can argue the international consequences all they want but in the current situation - economic and international - voting to at least temporarily stop aid to specific nations make a lot of sense politically and a lot of sense to the American people.
For conservatives, the Senate is clearly not conservative enough. The next step - beyond just 2012 should be pretty obvious from this point. Conservatives need to consolidate Republican wins in the Congress and look at creating a shift towards more conservative candidates for the Senate. How that happens requires a longer discussion, but the objective is quite clear. The Tea Party needs to focus first on the least conservative Republicans in safe conservative Senate seats and get them replaced with more representative Republicans, and then get them elected.
There are conservative Senators in conservative regions that require no attention. But after that the steps are not as obvious. There are RINOs in liberal districts and probably not any conservative Senators in not conservative districts. For the latter, conservatives should adopt a defensive posture to ensure Republicans keep those seats. For the former a more comprehensive strategy is probably required that needs to be taken on a case by case basis. The idea is to bring the electorate to the right, which takes time and considerable effort so that replacing the RINOs with more conservative candidates does not mean an immediate loss of the seat to the liberal opponent.
On the other side of the ledger where Democrats hold seats and the opportunity for pickups might exist, the immediate focus should clearly be on conservative districts with Democrat Senators. Liberals Senators in liberal districts are low value but such is not the case for "conservative" or "moderate" Democratic Senators in conservative districts. How do you rank order them for both their vulnerability (less difficult) and also from least objectionable to most objectionable (a more difficult value to gauge)? Once you've created a matrix you can create a roadmap for the order in which to target Senate districts.
It's a long term strategy, even though the country faces short term crises. It requires subjective assessments in a situation that calls for dispassionate long term planning. Whether that's even possible is unclear.