Caught in the tumbling dominoes of an America electorate decisively rejecting the politics of hate and extremism, Tea Party fire-breather, Allen West, has been soundly toppled from his Florida congressional seat by Democratic opponent, newcomer and former construction company owner, Patrick Murphy. Despite funding a stunningly expensive race for a Senate seat (upwards of $17M), West was never able to pull ahead, deep pockets and Tea Party bona fides notwithstanding. The Huffington Post points to his notoriously crass and hyperbolic rhetoric as part of the problem:
Among his more memorable comments, West called fellow Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) “vile” and “not a lady,” said that more than 80 House Democrats are Communist Party members, compared being gay to liking chocolate chip ice cream, and said two times that Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would “truly be proud” of the current Democratic Party.
West is so notorious for his incendiary speech, in fact, that progressive website, ThinkProgress, compiled a list of Rep. Allen West’s 15 Most Outrageous Statements, particularly entertaining in light of his congressional comeuppance.
Murphy, meanwhile, took a tack that offered a stark alternative:
Murphy, a construction company owner who struggled for name recognition among voters, ran a campaign built almost entirely on the message that he is the antithesis to West’s better-known reputation: that of a party extremist known for saying offensive things to or about Democrats.
Not to parse too expansively on the somewhat unexpected outcome of this race, but add to it the defeats of “shut it down” Todd Akin, “rape babies are gifts from God” Robert Mourdock, “vote against equal pay” Scott Brown and “not a true hero” Joe Walsh, (Michelle “vaccines make you retarded” Bachmann appears to have lived to fear-monger another day), it’s not hard to extrapolate that the bloom is seriously off the Tea Party/Hard Right rose. President Obama’s win against “severely” conservative, flip-flopping, money manipulating Mitt Romney only serves to accentuate the shifting public attitudes toward extremist politics.
It remains to be seen if this trend continues, if it becomes more widespread and, if so, what that will mean for the country as a whole, particularly as we continue to deal with economic issues, foreign wars, and deep social divides. But for now, we’ve been relieved of the politics of Mr. West, whose statement, “I must confess, when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool,” suggests he’s having a rough time this week for more than one reason.