Rand Paul's big Senate test: Can tea party compromise?
Will Rand Paul's promised tea party caucus in the Senate be able to stop government spending or be forced (gasp) to compromise on the shape of 'constitutional government'?
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The degree of separation between Rand and DeMint represents two emerging poles of the tea party. Rand represents the more fervently ideological wing of the a potential tea party caucus – standing firm on principles. DeMint might lean toward greater practicality, wanting Washington to move forward on meaningful fiscal policy that will get the economy going again.Skip to next paragraph
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A recent Pew Research Center poll noted that a majority of Americans actually don't want to see federal spending frozen.
Whether the new Senate dynamics actually help Washington get the economy going again or whether it gridlocks meaningful legislation could play a role in the 2012 presidential election, which, for many tea partyers, is the movement's ultimate prize.
"With the Senate closely divided, Republicans will have to work with Democrats to get things done," writes Kate Zernike in The New York Times. "Tea Party lawmakers who refuse to go along may find they become irrelevant – certainly not the goal of all the noise and passion of the last two years."
The libertarian advocacy group Freedom Works, which has worked to get many tea party candidates elected, says the GOP should follow Paul's lead and not compromise on core tea party values such as cutting taxes and reining in spending. "The success of the GOP will not merely benefit from the Tea Party vote, it will depend on it," the organization writes in a press release.
But DeMint hinted at the idea that it will largely be up to Democrats to move toward the center in order to make room for compromise, as the GOP aims to flex some tea party muscle in upcoming debate.
"The big problem we have in Washington right now is that the Democrats are so tied into special interests that they cannot move back to the center, [meaning that] we can't work together on how to cut budget spending," says DeMint."I'm not sure how this is going to sort out."