(THE GUARDIAN) — Looking forward to the midterm elections, the Republican party is seeking to repeat the dramatic performance of 2010 that ushered in a freshman class of Tea Party activists and reinforced for the GOP establishment the notion that their best hope for growing the party was to stop everything else in its tracks. They had no animating principle besides blanket opposition.

In retrospect, the failure of that attitude seems written into its foundations. At a retreat for freshmen congressmen sponsored by Freedom Works (whose money and organization has kept the increasingly unpopular Tea Party afloat), one aspiring legislator freely admitted that the gathering lacked the key component of, you know, legislation:

We didn’t get so much into the issues … I think what we’re all taking away from this is how we can continue the momentum of the movement.

Today, the party is publicly scrabbling for another program of action, even as their congressional members surrender to inertia over and over again. Clearly, something must feel good about voting to repeal Affordable Care Act if they’re going to do it 42 times in a row – but it suggests the kind of solitary pursuit our mothers once warned would make us go blind.

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