Did the GOP Establishment Just Curb-Stomp Liberty?

Dustin Stockton thinks so. Depending on your point of view, that may make him the most credible movement conservative in America.
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The Tea Party's response to the debt-ceiling deal is white-hot fury at establishment Republicans. Those traitors sold out the people who sent them to Congress! It's the message Tea Party-affiliated voters want to hear, or at least what people sending them fundraising pitches believe that they want to hear. Angry rhetoric is to conservative PACs what spread feathers are to peacocks: The more extravagant and over-the-top the display, the better the results. 

As a Tea Party alpha-male who established his credibility ages ago by calling David Souter a "goat-fucking child molester," Erick Erickson of RedState evidently thought that he could afford to be relatively restrained in his latest fundraising pitch. Posted online in the aftermath of the debt-ceiling deal, it characterizes Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy as "frauds" and "charlatans." For a moment I thought I was reading a lullaby. Has Erickson gone RINO? You can hear harsher words for the establishment at Georgetown cocktail parties. 

The fundraising pitch Dustin Stockton sent out is worded much more strongly. If harshly criticizing one's ideological adversaries takes populist courage, he is the bravest man in his faction. If fealty to conservative principles is reliably signaled by how forcefully one expresses disdain for the GOP establishment, this man is less likely to betray Tea Party donors than anyone else. 

Though his Western Representation PAC operates out of Nevada, its ambitions are national, and Stockton has spoken at scores of Tea Party rallies all over America. After many Republicans joined with Democrats to avert a debt default and end a government shutdown, he didn't stop at calling them frauds or charlatans. The fundraising email that landed in my inbox under the subject line "A Parliament of Whores and Traitors" is too lengthy to run in full, but here are some excerpts for those who judge the strength of a man's principles by his vehemence:

  • "Mitch McConnell received his $3 billion of silver to betray the base and the grassroots, via an amendment authored by Lamar Alexander.  They're such sluts for a good porking ..."
  • "It takes $2.9 billion to put Mitch McConnell on his knees before President Obama, whoring himself out and betraying his Kentucky constituents."
  • "This is war. We're not going to stand by as the whores in Washington betray us and their constituents to send money to their crony sugar daddies, including the pharmaceutical companies who stand to make an estimated $35 billion in profits from Obamacare ....  We're going to burn Mitch McConnell and his parliament of whores at the stake in 2014 and 2016."
  • "These 81 whores curb-stomped liberty and defecated on the Constitution yet again tonight."
  • "They will remember this day and rue it, and we will pour forth the fires of your wrath upon their heads.  We're not running away, and we are not beaten."
  • "Every dollar you contribute to us is a bullet aimed at the heart of the status quo in Washington, a bullet aimed at the parliament of whores and traitors who sold you out tonight."  
  • "You aren't funding a political campaign. You're funding a revolution.  Your donations are history-making ammunition to execute those who spat in your faces tonight with their vote.  It's time to take these whores and traitors out."  
  • "Donate today, and know that your dollars will rain down like mortars on those who betrayed us tonight in 2014. A season of vengeance is upon us, and it is time for the establishment to reap what it has sown."

Obviously, profane language and violent imagery of this kind isn't going to go over well among the cosseted, sanctimonious elite in Washington, D.C. Its author has therefore demonstrated that he doesn't care about the establishment's approval. Until other fundraising pitches can muster at least as much disdain for the GOP establishment as Western Representation PAC, why would Tea Partiers donate elsewhere? In a way, doing so would itself smack of compromise. What, after all, do rank-and-file Tea Partiers want to bankroll? Play-it-safe PACs that use SAT words like "charlatan," staying well within the bounds of what the establishment deems acceptable merely to increase short-term operational effectiveness? Or organizations like Western Representation PAC, which refuse to pull their punches?

I know what Ronald Reagan would prefer.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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