Not only is Rand Paul’s victory a wake-up call for the national GOP establishment but it should also be one for those who imagine that the Tea Party movement is somehow unfriendly territory for the religious right. Other than Paul himself, the big winner was Dr. James Dobson, who weighed in with a video endorsement that seems to have driven the last nail into the coffin of Paul’s Mitch McConnell-anointed opponent. Therein, Dobson slams “senior members of the GOP” for lying to him about Paul’s positions and chalks it up to Paul’s credit that he “identifies with the Tea Party movement.”
Yes, Tea Party manifestos are all about taxes and big government, but at bottom the movement is an expression of the same kind of anti-coastal culture war politics that has driven the religious right since the 1970s. So long as libertarians toe the line on abortion and keep their views on same-sex marriage to themselves, they’ll get all the social conservative votes that are out there to get–and in states like Kentucky, that’s a lot.