Amid all the attention to Ted Cruz's senate primary victory in Texas, few seem to have stopped to ask an obvious question:
Can Cruz really be seen as the face of a younger, more diverse GOP when his victory is yet more evidence of the conquest of that party by a Tea Party fueled by the reactionary anger of older white conservative hardliners?
Ted Cruz may speak like a Tea Partier, but he certainly doesn't look like one. According to a CBS News poll taken in 2010 of Tea Party supporters:
The vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black.
They tend to skew older: Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41 percent).
Despite the rise of Marco Rubio and now Ted Cruz, the real impact of the Tea Party has been to make the Republican Party far less tolerant. Under the sway of the most reactionary element of the U.S. electorate -- older white conservatives afraid of change -- the Republican Party has become a vehicle for a new and revived American xenophobia, a current that never lies far below the surface of U.S. life.
Witness how Republican presidential candidates who showed even an ounce of compassion during the primaries for undocumented immigrants were clobbered by Tea Party activists, with the end result that the GOP nominee -- a man who once had moderate views on immigration -- now will go into the general election as the most anti-immigrant presidential candidate in 90 years.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are touted as the "future," and that's ironic given how they help legitimize a political movement that openly longs for the whiter America of the past.