The Republican civil war takes shape

While America has shifted into the mode of near-constant electioneering, even numbered years are particularly bad since they feature elections to House and Senate seats. Matt Taibbi writes that one thing that will be interesting to watch is the Republican party leadership trying to wrest back control from the very people they promoted in years gone by as the ‘real Americans’. He says that the US Chamber of Commerce is bankrolling this effort to the tune of $50 million to prevent ‘loser’ candidates from being the party’s nominees.

To add to the irony, this effort is being led by people like Karl Rove and Dick Armey, the very people who dismissed the whole idea of governing in favor of a strategy where anything that you did that could win, however cynical it may be, was acceptable. I suspect that, as usual, they are following the money.

With Armey and the Tea Party, the “movement” was about always about rallying ordinary struggling Americans behind an idealized anti-tax/deregulatory agenda that, in an amazing coincidence, also favored the super-wealthy industrialists who happened to be backing groups like FreedomWorks.

The problem with blowing off the whole governing thing in favor of a decade-plus of cynical pandering and generally treating presidential politics like a fraternity pranking competition is that it eventually comes back to bite you.

If you spend years letting your voters think Saddam Hussein was an agent of al-Qaeda, that passing a national health care program will result in the formation of Stalinist “death panels,” or that Barack Obama is secretly a foreigner, you’re going to end up with some loopy candidates prone to saying crazy things that will turn off voting majorities, which in turn will make it hard to the deliver policy objectives you actually care about for your big-money donors.

The Republican establishment is only just figuring this out. Hence this new $50 million initiative, which according to the WSJ will involve the Chamber working with party leaders in “an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates.”

But this sudden decision by the party’s Washington establishment to reverse course and blame their failures on “fools” out there in the heartland is a joke. If you spend a decade treating your constituents like morons, you can’t point the finger at them when your party gets a reputation for being stupid.

But there are other wealthy people like the billionaire Koch brothers who are still financing the Tea Party faction and it is this overall dynamic, rather than individual races, that will be of interest.


  1. machintelligence says

    It might even end up being a three way shootout between the Fiscal Republicans, the Tea Party and the Christian Right (although there is considerable overlap between the last two.)

  2. says

    Who says the republicans aren’t real Americans? They acted on the basis of short term thinking, and then try to deal with the consequences of those decisions rather than avoid them in the first place.

  3. Matt G says

    I’m waiting for the day when the Heartland Americans (read lower middle class (and lower), white, rural/small town Americans) realize they are being used by Wall Street Americans.

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