the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates,
pollutes,etc.: the purity of drinking water.
OK so I got that definition from here. But this word was being thrown around the past few weeks by establishment republican types, Mitch McConnell for instance. Implying that the tea-party or tea-party like minded groups were going after people in the republican party who are not in total lockstep with themselves. People like McConnell are naturally going to say this, especially when having to defend his power by explaining his positions and votes (which is being threatened by said tea-party and righter-wing groups).
I will admit that I believe what McConnell has said to that effect is true to a point. Trying to make a substance 100% pure is not only extremely difficult (if not impossible), but the resulting purity usually makes the substance unusable. Gold is a perfect example of this. In its purest form, gold is a very shiny and bright yellow metal. However, for all its luster, gold becomes incredibly soft and weak the purer it gets. Trying to make jewelry from 100% gold is impossible, because it would ware down into nothing. The trick is to take the luster of gold, and add to it elements that make it strong and useful. While this results in a technically impure product, it also results in a product that has more useful properties. Water is another example. Pure water contains just that, H2O and nothing else. However, the taste of the pure water will be dull and unremarkable on the tongue. The impurities in water, dissolved solids and metals, salts, etc, make it more palatable to drink. As well as provide additional benefits, as many of the dissolved substances in water have their own useful properties.
Which brings me back to the establishment vs tea party et al. The issue that the GOP is facing is indeed one of purity. Think of a metaphor of water passing through a filter. The water on the other side is essentially what the GOP should be. When it is at its best, the "look" and "taste" of the GOP should be all about limited government, responsible budgeting, minimal amount of regulation required on individuals and businesses, empowering the individual, having a strong national defense, respect for life, and the rule of law for ALL individuals.
However from essentially 2000 to 2006, we got the following: Medicare Part-D, No Child Left Behind, Homeland Security Department, huge federal deficits (This was from federal spending, not the Iraq or Afghan wars), no cuts in federal spending whatsoever, and an attempt to pass an illegal alien amnesty. Keep in mind, this was not the democrats who did any of this on their own, this was the republican party who brought all of the policies listed above into being. Past 2006, things got no better with TARP. None of these things have any business being advocated by republicans, let alone being implemented by them.
The tea-party is just the natural response of people who support the republican party, brand, and policies being unhappy with the actions and results of the people who have been running the party. It is a purifying and refining influence, and I believe that it is in the long run a healthy response. Mitch McConnell and his ilk are suggesting that the tea party is making the republicans too pure to be of any value. But he is wrong. The tea party are not actually going after the smallest impurities, they are going after the glaringly obvious ones. Sticking with the water filter analogy, McConnell sees himself as a small speck of salt, when the tea party sees him as a giant pebble. If the pebble can get through the filter, so can anything else, making the water undrinkable.
Look to the recent past. There were members of the party that if they could not be brought back in line, needed to be pushed out. For either their own self-serving interests, or their true ideological colors. Some examples**:
These names above either had no real backbone in standing for their principles, or they just had the wrong principles in the first place. Either way, they have not been missed. Two of these examples cleared the way for Pat Toomy and Marco Rubio (while both are far from perfect, it is safe to say that they are light years better than Specter and Crist).
In the end, the tea party is nothing to be afraid of if you are truly a conservative. It isn't an all or nothing thing. But the fact of the matter is that if you are going to be running as a conservative, you now need to be sure that you govern like a conservative. If you can't or won't do that, there is nothing wrong with that. It is you just probably don't belong in the republican party.
**Notice that these people all seem to slide from right to left politically? McCain (who was rumored to be John Kerry's
running mate in 2004), Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch all seem to always push for bi-partisanship which always seems to be more give for conservatives and less take from liberals? That is again an issue of purity, or a lack thereof.
**Also notice that the left has no such issues, because everybody is lockstep. Look at Joe Lieberman. The man is a total left wing radical as they can get. The only thing he had said that was even remotely conservative leaning was his support for the war on terror. This resulted in him getting primaried by the far left by Ned Lamont. He then goes the independent route to maintain his senate seat. But he still caucuses with the democrats. Contrast that with say Lincoln Chaffee.