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For my Project 52 post this week, I thought I’d quickly comment on Karl Rove’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

Karl Rove writes that the conservative, anti-Obama Tea Party movement needs to avoid being co-opted by the Republicans. They strength, he writes, is their decentralisation and their ability to “hold the feet of politicians in both parties in the fire” over debt, spending and federal power.

The key paragraphs are these however:

If tea party groups are to maximize their influence on policy, they must now begin the difficult task of disassociating themselves from cranks and conspiracy nuts. This includes 9/11 deniers, “birthers” who insist Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., and militia supporters espousing something vaguely close to armed rebellion.

The GOP is also better off if it foregoes any attempt to merge with the tea party movement. The GOP cannot possibly hope to control the dynamics of the highly decentralized galaxy of groups that make up the tea party movement. There will be troubling excesses and these will hurt Republicans if the party is formally associated with tea party groups.

Rove’s article is not advice to the Tea Party movement, but rather a warning to the Republicans to be wary of the ultra-extreme constituent units that make up the TPM.

Rove knows that in order to win elections, the Republicans need to win the support of the independent voters, as well as the Republican base. This is how Obama won – by mobilising the independents. Independent voters don’t generally support the ultra-conservative extremists like 9/11 deniers, birthers or La Rouchites.

The Republicans have been warned – don’t try to subsume the Tea Party movement into the GOP. Rather, mobilise them on issues and try to get them out to vote – but aim for the “conservative centre” rather than the fringe.

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