The Downsides of a Crazy GOP.

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By now, most of you probably know of Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell's surprising win over longtime Congressman Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware. Unsurprisingly, Democrats are ecstatic about the result; Mike Castle is one of the most popular politicians in Delaware and would have easily carried the general election had he won the primary. Now, with O'Donnell on the ballet -- and the NRSC withdrawing from the race -- Democratic nominee Chris Coons has an excellent chance at becoming the state's next senator. Beyond that, this is a major strategic victory for Democrats; not only can they direct money from Delaware to vulnerable incumbents in Colorado, Nevada, and elsewhere, but the new math makes a Republican Senate very unlikely, if not impossible.

This is an undeniably fascinating episode in American politics; O'Donnell holds a variety of extreme views, as well as a tenuous grip on reality as we all experience it. In the 1990s, she starred in a series of anti-masturbation videos, and she hasn't been entirely honest about her educational experience. That she even stayed in the race this long was a shock; her campaign was dead in the water until last month, when she was championed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, as well as the NRA and GOP Sen. Jim DeMint. That said, for all of O'Donnell's mesmerizing strangeness, this isn't actually the best outcome; between the United States' even partisan divide and our cyclical politics, the Republican Party will find itself with unified control of the federal government, and odds are good that it will be sooner than we expect.

The Republican Party's rigid conservatism is completely inhospitable to progressive ideas, and a federal government dominated by these figures and a Republican White House is vastly more likely to start needless wars and redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top. A GOP raised on lies and mired in extremism is helpful in the short run but dangerous for the future; liberals don't have to help moderate Republicans -- or even like them -- but they should at least appreciate their value. For now, though, Christine O'Donnell -- along with others, like Arizona's Jan Brewer and Alaska's Joe Miller -- is the new face of the GOP, win or lose. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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