I was saddened, though not surprised, when former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said (in referring to tea-party candidates) in a recent interview with the Washington Post, “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples. As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.” It stirred my greatest fears about the Republican Party.

I’ve always liked Trent Lott. Even though he’s establishment to the core, by and large he’s been one of the good guys – kind of an unperfected free-marketer. But I was very disappointed at his playing the role of loyal club member and dutifully stepping down as Senate majority leader when his well-intended remarks at Strom Thurman’s 100th birthday party exploded into a left-wing fiesta.

Prior to that, in 1992, Sen. Lott had sent me a lengthy letter complimenting me on the content of a mockup magazine I was planning to publish (which I later decided to shelve), and I always appreciated his kind comments. So much so that when I started the Liberty Education Interview Series, I contacted his office to invite him to become one of my first interviews.

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After a couple of back-and-forth e-mails, I spoke to a young man (“Joshua”) who handled Lott’s media commitments. He wanted to know the kind of questions I would be asking the Senator, and when I mentioned the recently passed TARP bill and other big-spending government programs, he said, “I can tell you right now that Senator Lott would not be agreeable to do an interview about such topics because he has paying clients who support those bills.”

In a follow-up e-mail, I responded, “I appreciate the fact that Senator Lott has clients, but I’d like to believe that he is still deeply concerned about the future of this country.”

In a final response, Joshua said that even though Lott “applauds your efforts in promoting free markets and capitalism … his schedule simply does not permit him the opportunity to participate in this effort. However, rest assured that he is doing his part in the cause.”

And, in all honesty, I believe Trent Lott, in his own way, really is doing his part to promote freedom and free enterprise. In fact, a majority of Republicans are, in their own way, working to promote freedom and free enterprise. The problem is that they are conflicted by their desire to 1) stay in office as long as possible and 2) make as much money as possible.

As one of my longtime congressional friends told me bluntly, “You don’t start making big money until you leave office.” (Yes – he, too, is now a lobbyist.) Interestingly, my friend is behind the times, because the Democrats have boldly taken it to the next level and now make big money while still in office!

So, Sen. Lott has the right idea when he talks about co-opting, but he has it backwards. It’s the tea-party people – the massive majority of libertarians, conservatives and libertarian-centered conservatives – who need to co-opt the Republican Party. If they cannot accomplish that, you can look for the near-term extinction of the Grand Old Party and the emergence of an official Tea Party.

In his interview with the Washington Post, Lott also said he is not expecting a tea-party sweep, explaining that “I still have faith in the visceral judgment of the American people.” Say what? Attention Sen. Lott: The visceral judgment of the American people is what the tea-party movement is all about!

As I have written about so often in the past, if Barack Obama and his criminal cronies in Congress are not able to prevent free and fair elections in November, I believe the Republicans will overwhelm the Democrats in a tidal wave of victories beyond what even the most optimistic conservatives are expecting.

It’s going to be like a political earthquake and tsunami hitting simultaneously. The day-in-day-out lies of Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress will be laid bare for all to see in one historic night.

The desperate Dems have tried everything to marginalize the tea-party people. They’ve tried the race card … they’ve tried painting them as a radical fringe group … they’ve tried making absurd allegations about their spitting habits and hate speech … in summation, they’ve tried hard to portray Mr. and Mrs. Mainstream America as dangerous, evil people. But the result is that they’ve only succeeded in increasing the anger of more and more everyday Americans.

To this day, most politicians (on both the left and the right) and most media pundits still do not understand 1) that the tea party’s sentiments are shared not by a small fringe group of Americans, but a majority of Americans, 2) just how angry tea-party adherents really are at the criminality that goes on day in and day out in Washington, and 3) how determined these freedom-lovers are to defeat socialism in America once and for all.

Either the hazing and indoctrination (“co-opting”) of new members of the Republican wing of the D.C. Club will finally be brought to a halt or the United States of America, as we came to know it growing up, will never again resurface. Club members have got to be made to understand that the game is over. Term limits, a balanced-budget amendment and rigid adherence to the rule that all legislation be required to pass constitutional muster would be good starters.

If they win big on Nov. 2, Republicans will be faced with a choice: Hand the sword of power over to the new faces in the party – those who truly believe in freedom and free markets and are serious about putting an end to the never-ending sham of “compromise” – or use the sword to commit hara-kiri.

Let’s hope it’s not a bloody ending for the Grand Old Party.

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