This is why you have to point out O’Donnell’s foolishness early and often: [paint other Tea Klanners with her foolishness, blah blah blah]
This is not true. We are not having a constitutional debate between lawyers. Rush Limbaugh is not going to change his mind on this, neither is O’Donnell- just as you are not going to change your mind on this, or the 2nd amendment, or the 10th. For the most part, the vast vast majority of Americans are not going to change their minds either.
“Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.”
A large segment of the population wants to believe this and you cannot take it from them by pointing it out.
This is indeed precisely where we disagree, but for different reasons (I think, anyway). We don’t need to convince (nor, as you point out, are we going to) the Limbaughs and Palins of the world; and but also I feel like these sorts of unreachable Tea Klan true believers are a relatively small fragment of the population; low-information voters, on the other hand, can be swayed by the red meat that those same individuals peddle, but (and more importantly) I’ve found that those low-info voters also deeply understand various foundational concepts implicit to the country or, more accurately, to our national conception of civics and civic duty. Importantly, they also make up most of the electorate. And these same low-information folks might well holler “hells yeah!” at a “Taxed Enough Already!!!” chant, but would recoil in horror if they really understood the full depth of the fundamental changes these folks want in how the country would operate and the foundational ignorance of many of its most prominent proponents.
You can pick off huge numbers of folks that are simply angry, but don’t buy the whole line; but to do so: you have to be having that conversation. Constantly, but also respectfully. Otherwise they’ve got nothing to compare these Tea Klan positions to. The Tea Klan is all fired up; the Democrats are sitting quietly talking about comparative top marginal tax rates over time. By consistently and firmly pointing out the idiocy, you begin to pick off topics near and dear to the Tea Klan. They simply can’t be mentioned anymore because the audience will tune-out, sigh, or laugh. Inoculation is key, though: people have to approach some new Tea Klan candidate armed with some basic and memorable information they’ve retained from the last time these folks were out on the hustings. Thus you progressively and inevitably marginalize and ultimately eliminate as a political force the Tea Klan (by taking away its rhetoric and, essentially by equating said rhetoric with foolishness or hard-hearted and ultimately unamerican concepts) and, in large part, you deeply wound the GOP itself for its role in enabling these crazies.
After all, we must never forget that polls show the GOP is (still) historically unpopular. There are reasons for that, and they extend well beyond “party of Bush” type recent history. We need to call attention to the darker veins of this stuff early and often. That the national party apparatus is constantly afraid to do so is precisely why they fail.