I wonder if the Democratic Party's leadership and liberal-left commentators, who have been having a field day trashing the Tea Party movement, might learn from the cautionary tale of the Episcopal Church.
There was a time when the Episcopal Church was referred to, only semi-facetiously, as "the Republican Party at Prayer." Those days are long gone, of course, and while the rapidly diminishing Episcopal Church is, ironically, even whiter and more upper-class than it was in its WASPy heyday, it is even harder to find Republicans and conservatives in its churches than baptisms and confirmations.
The reasons for the disappearance of Republicans and conservatives from the Episcopal Church no doubt vary but certainly the relentless innovations of the past forty years are largely responsible. I suggest, however, it may actually have been less the innovations themselves that drove many Republicans and conservatives, who were much more likely to be traditionalists, out of the Episcopal Church than it was the unceasing vilification of them from pulpit and church leadership. People don't stay where they aren't wanted.
The Democratic Party should heed that example. Via Instapundit we learn two recent polls show a fair number of those supporting or sympathizing with the Tea Party movement identify themselves as Democrats. Nonetheless, the trashing of Tea Partiers from Democratic leadership and the liberal press continues unabated, with the increasingly stale and ineffective charge of racism being the most popular tactic.
The Democrats, just like the Episcopal Church, do not seem to grasp that constantly smearing your opponents, especially those in your ranks, does not not win them over and will eventually drive them away. If the Democrats and their cohorts in the media continue this foolish ploy--and they will, being so ideologically driven as to be blinded to reality--they may find themselves facing not only an electoral disaster this November but worse, becoming as irrelevant an institution as the the Episcopal Church is today.