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Dec 16 2013

Update on the Republican infighting

I am not quite sure what to make of the latest developments in the infighting within the Republican party. All of a sudden, leaders such as speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and senate minority leader Mitch McConnell seem to be openly challenging the Tea Party faction within the party, sometimes using almost contemptuous language.

Boehner in particular has been quite caustic.

But the pushback is not just words. It turns out that on Wednesday, the party leadership fired Paul Teller, the executive director of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative caucus within the House of Representative of the GOP, for working too closely with outside “conservative advocacy groups” which is code for “Tea Party”.

Conservatives are fighting back, claiming that they are under attack and that this is the end of conservatism within the GOP.

This assertion, like almost everything that emanates from that group, is overblown. As has been clear for some time, this infighting has very little to do with ideology (they all pretty much agree on an extreme obstructionist right-wing agenda) and everything to do with tactics, between those who want to adopt a take-no-prisoners, scorched Earth policy (the Tea Party and its allies) and those who want to achieve the same goals but through more traditional means (the Republican leadership establishment). What we can expect to see are some public statements from the party leadership genuflecting to the Tea Party while in private conversations they urge them to cut out the grandstanding inflexibility.

It seems clear that the government shut down in November, the debt ceiling default threat, and the obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act is perceived by the Republican leadership as having been far more damaging to the party than they earlier let on, and they are in no mood to countenance a repeat.

Where this leaves those high-profile party members like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio who hitched their wagon to the radical wing remains to be seen.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    raven

    It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of vaguely humanoid toads.

    It’s a lot like what just happened in North Korea. Except no one has been executed. Yet.

    The resemblance is more than superficial. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the christofascists use the same instruction manual. Orwell’s 1984.

  2. 2
    raven

    1. The Affordable Care Act is a minor tweak to our kludged together health care system. They are aiming for 7 million enrolled in 2014, out of 317 million people this is almost negligible.

    It’s really not much of an issue to hang on to.

    2. It may even work. It’s based on the Massachusetts law of Romney et al. and that is working. And enrollment is going OK. Based on past experience, enrollment in these programs is slow on the uptake and back loaded.

    Reports are that Republicans are signing up in expected numbers. They may hate Obama but they also like a good deal on health care insurance.

  3. 3
    JonP

    This assertion, like almost everything that emanates from that group, is overblown. As has been clear for some time, this infighting has very little to do with ideology (they all pretty much agree on an extreme obstructionist right-wing agenda) and everything to do with tactics, between those who want to adopt a take-no-prisoners, scorched Earth policy (the Tea Party and its allies) and those who want to achieve the same goals but through more traditional means (the Republican leadership establishment).

    It’s almost as if the “conservative activist groups” don’t actually care about ideology, governing, or the republican party. It’s almost like they will say anything for money. Apparently the scorched earth, take-no-prisoners, no compromises under any circumstances tactics make these groups a lot of money.

    A republican party that is constantly under siege may actually help them raise more money from the scared conservatives that fear their way of life is being taken away (by a stronger democratic party). Tea party groups kind of lose if the full conservative policy agenda actually gets implemented. They lose in a couple of ways: 1. How do they continue to make money after having already won the fight? 2. When those policies fail and cause economic problems for themselves, then the public opinion may turn against them. Ignorance is strength and winning is losing.

    Perhaps the republican party is now publicly admitting that they know this. These tea party type groups are good at rallying conservative voters for republicans and rallying voters in general against republicans.

  4. 4
    Mano Singham

    I think that is definitely a big part of the story. Fear is a good fund-raising tool.

  5. 5
    mnb0

    Tea Party already has won. GOP never has been as conservative as in our days and as a result, to fill the political vacuum, the Democrats have moved over to the right as well. Because of the peculiar political system in the USA chances of a centre-left party challenging the Democrats at the other side of the spectrum are zero.

  6. 6
    jamessweet

    I agree with this mostly, except the game is not over. There are two hopeful signs:

    First, there are rumblings of a progressive backlash within the Democratic party. Occupy was interesting, if unfocused. The momentum behind Warren is a positive sign. There is no doubt that the Democratic Party has shifted to the right, along with the nation, but that doesn’t rule out a rebound in the future. I’m not saying it WILL happen, but I don’t think anybody can say it WON’T happen either. It’s a distinct possibility.

    And second, while the Tea Party has “won” in some sense, those fucking idiots don’t know it! And they never will! They will continue to push for more and more purity until something gives. The worst case scenario is that they are slowly marginalized, leaving the mainstream GOP intact but Righter. However, don’t rule out the best case scenario: A full-blown Republican fracture, with the Tea Party becoming it’s own pseudo-viable third party, sapping conservative votes for multiple election cycles.

    If the teabaggers had any idea when to quit, such a scenario would be pure fantasy — but if it’s not clear by now, they don’t. At all. In between those best and worst case scenarios are all sorts of possibilities that would cause a major multi-cycle hit to the GOP. The Tea Party is unlikely to ride off into the sunset here, because it is not in the nature of purist ideological movements to do so.

    I agree a center-left challenge is unrealistic, and even if it did happen, due to the simple plurality voting system it would actually be bad for the Dems. But a far-right challenge IS realistic, and it could seriously fuck some shit up for the douchebags.

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