By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
The Democrats took the thumping in national elections last week, but it might be establishment Republicans who take the next thumping—at the hands of the Tea Party, popular political commentator Tucker Carlson told a packed room of REALTORS® at yesterday’s Legislative & Political Forum.
Carlson called the Tea Party the most energetic and dynamic force in American politics today, and its ranks are filled with voters who refuse to compromise on the need for the federal government to cut its ballooning budget deficit. That idealism, he said, will run smack into the need for Republican lawmakers to forge compromises with President Obama and Democratic lawmakers to get things done.
Gov. Chris Christie
This “civil war,” as Carlson called it, could help President Obama in the short term, but in the long run it provides an impetus for lawmakers to get serious about getting the government’s fiscal house in order. Carlson thinks a Tea Party-fueled Republican base will nominate proven budget-cutter New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to run against Obama for president. Christie, he said, will look into the camera and tell the American people, “You spent too much and so did I,” and then propose cuts to get the country back on track.
In more ordinary circumstance former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee, Carlson said. But the willingness of Tea Partiers to stand on principle, even at the cost of winning an election, as they did in Delaware with Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell, suggests these aren’t ordinary circumstances.
Carlson dismissed the nomination chances of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who he said suffers from a superficiality problem.
Former Clinton Administration aide Paul Begala, who shared the dais with Carlson, said legislative gridlock in the near term is the likely result of the election. Lawmakers in both parties are unprepared to make the really hard choices required to bring down the deficit. Those choices include cutting the big entitlements—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—as well as the defense budget and the share of the budget that goes to interest payments on the national debt. More doable are small cuts to various budget areas.
Begala and Carlson agreed that gridlock in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted to keep it hard for Congress to make big changes.
For REALTORS®, Begala said, there’s a unique silver lining to the election outcome—at least in the Washington, D.C., area. “Obama helped 65 REALTORS® get 65 new listings,” he said.