Indeed, tea party activists – whose agenda has the approval of about a third of Americans – began quickly to sort through the electoral ashes, calibrating new ways to lead the GOP and achieve its chief goal – saving the republic from a looming calamity of fiscal profligacy.
“Defeat does not weaken the tea party,” says Brigitte Nacos, a political scientist at Columbia University who studies the GOP’s tea party splinter coalition. “The real topic is the tea party now, and it’s not only Republicans that have to deal with it, but also the president has to now deal with it.”
Yet given the country’s vote Tuesday, at least one tea party blogger suggested that studied compromise may have to replace the line-in-the-sand absolutism that left last year’s negotiations on the debt ceiling in bitter shambles and helped turn American opinion against the movement.
One suggestion floated by tea party members to break the fiscal gridlock would be to craft a spending deal similar to that struck by President Bill Clinton in 1997 – raising marginal tax rates across the board while slashing deficit spending. The tack, experts say, might allow a term-limited Obama to strike a substantial and meaningful across-the-aisle legislative deal to avoid potentially plunging the US into another recession.
Political scientists and tea party activists also suggested that such a deal could actually be brokered by the former president, as Professor Nocas says has been discussed, especially given Mr. Clinton’s 11th hour role on the Obama campaign trail.
“I definitely think it would behoove Obama to put Bill Clinton in charge of outreach, because Barack Obama frankly doesn’t know how to make a deal on the Hill,” says Scott Boston, a St. Louis-based tea party activist and blogger.