US mid-term elections did grab their share of attention last autumn by producing a whole spectrum of loony candidates. Videos of Christine O’Donnell denying her witchcraft past and campaigning against masturbation or hilarious speeches by Jimmy Macmillan from Rent is Too Damn High Party went viral across the globe. But how did such an important event of American politics became reminiscent of a comedy show?
Obama’s overwhelming victory in 2008 presidential race infuriated the right-wing Republicans who could not put up with a liberal in the White House. Forget the liberal; most of them thought he was a communist, a terrorist and even the new Hitler.
Several new political groups such as Tea Party Express started national campaign to lower taxes, reduce the role of federal government, fight budget deficit and as they said ‘claim America back’. Tea Party movement declared war on current Washington establishment and provided a platform for the most radical candidates. Infamous Sarah Palin quickly jumped the bandwagon providing her moral support and attracting generous donations.
Tea Party candidates were surprisingly successful in defeating more experienced politicians in so-called primary elections where each party’s most active supporters choose their candidates for the general election. Dire economic situation and record-high unemployment also played their part in popular discontent with Washington politics.
Suddenly you did not need political experience or ability to unite the voters to become a candidate. All you needed was to be angry, very conservative and supported by Sarah Palin. As a result, the whole Republican Party moved to the extreme to save their seats. Even such a political legend as Senator John McCain had to toughen his agenda not to lose his party’s nomination.
An influx of angry, very conservative politicians with no prior experience may be destructive for political climate but became a gold mine for the entertainment industry. Nevada’s Sharron Angle caused uproar when suggested violent revolt against the US Congress. New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was found sending racist and bestiality featuring emails. Tom Tancredo from Colorado declared Barack Obama the greatest threat to the United States.
Although the craziest candidates were predominantly right-wing, the left did try to keep up in this dubious contest. Alvin Greene, a democrat from South Carolina, often struggled to send a coherent message in interviews and speeches. Aforementioned Rent is Too Damn High Party saw solution to all problems in New York’s very high rent prices.
2010 was a great year for loony candidates but their best hour seems to have gone. The most controversial of them failed in the general election while their more successful colleagues are unlikely to keep their promises and repeal major Obama’s laws. Tea-partiers will also face pressure from the Republican establishment as the electorate expects joint efforts from the Congress and the White House to fight unemployment and revive the economy.