Republican Party seems as divided, angry as ever

The Republican Party seems as divided and angry as ever.
Associated Press
Jan 7, 2013

Infighting has penetrated the highest levels of the House GOP leadership. Long-standing geographic tensions have increased, pitting endangered Northeastern Republicans against their colleagues from other parts of the country. Enraged tea party leaders are threatening to knock off dozens of Republicans who supported a measure that raised taxes on the nation's highest earners.

"People are mad as hell. I'm right there with them," Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said late last week, declaring that she has "no confidence" in the party her members typically support. Her remarks came after GOP lawmakers agreed to higher taxes but no broad spending cuts as part of a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff."

"Anybody that voted 'yes' in the House should be concerned" about primary challenges in 2014, she said.

At the same time, one of the GOP's most popular voices, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, blasted his party's "toxic internal politics" after House Republicans initially declined to approve disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy. He said it was "disgusting to watch" their actions and he faulted the GOP's most powerful elected official, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The GOP's internal struggles to figure out what it wants to be were painfully exposed after Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, but they have exploded in recent days. The fallout could extend well beyond the party's ability to win policy battles on Capitol Hill. It could hamper Republicans as they examine how to regroup and attract new voters after a disheartening election season.

To a greater degree than the Democrats, the Republican Party has struggled with internal divisions for the past few years. But these latest clashes have seemed especially public and vicious.

"It's disappointing to see infighting in the party," said Ryan Williams, a Republican operative and former Romney aide. "It doesn't make us look like we're in a position to challenge the president and hold him accountable to the promises he made."

What's largely causing the dissension? A lack of a clear GOP leader with a single vision for the party.

Republicans haven't had a consistent standard-bearer since President George W. Bush left office in 2008 with the nation on the edge of a financial collapse. His departure, along with widespread economic concerns, gave rise to a tea party movement that infused the GOP's conservative base with energy. The tea party is credited with broad Republican gains in the 2010 congressional elections, but it's also blamed for the rising tension between the pragmatic and ideological wings of the party — discord that festers still.

It was much the same for Democrats in the late 1980s before Bill Clinton emerged to win the White House and shift his party to the political center.

2012 presidential nominee Romney never fully captured the hearts of his party's most passionate voters. But his tenure atop the party was short-lived; since Election Day, he's disappeared from the political world.

Those Republican leaders who remain engaged — Christie, Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — are showing little sign of coming together.

Those on the GOP's deep bench of potential 2016 presidential contenders, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have begun staking out their own, sometimes conflicting ideas for the party.

Over the short term at least, the party's divisions probably will continue to be exposed.

Obama has outlined a second-term agenda focused on immigration and gun control; those are issues that would test Republican solidarity even in good times. Deep splits already exist between Republican pragmatists and the conservative base, who oppose any restrictions on guns or allowances for illegal immigrants.

It's unclear whether Obama can exploit the GOP fissures or whether the Republican dysfunction will hamper him. With Boehner unable to control his fractured caucus, the White House is left wondering how to deal with the House on any divisive issue.

Fiscal issues aren't going away. The federal government reached its borrowing limit last week, so Congress has about two months or three months to raise the debt ceiling or risk a default on federal debt. Massive defense and domestic spending cuts are set to take effect in late February. By late March, the current spending plan will end, raising the possibility of a government shutdown.

Frustrated conservative activists and GOP insiders hope that the continued focus on fiscal matters will help unite the factions as the party pushes for deep spending cuts. That fight also may highlight Democratic divisions because the party's liberal wing vehemently opposes any changes to Social Security or Medicare

"Whenever you lose the White House, the party's going to have ups and downs," said Republican strategist Ron Kaufman. "My guess is when the spending issues come up again, the Democrats' warts will start to show as well."

The GOP's fissures go beyond positions on issues. They also are geographical.

Once a strong voice in the party, moderate Republicans across the Northeast are nearly extinct. Many of those who remain were frustrated in recent days when Boehner temporarily blocked a vote on a disaster relief bill.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said campaign donors in the Northeast who give the GOP after the slight "should have their head examined."

Boehner, who just won a second term as speaker, quickly scheduled a vote on a narrower measure for Friday after the new Congress convened, and it rushed out a $9.7 billion measure to help pay flood insurance claims.

Weary Republican strategists are trying to be hopeful about the GOP's path ahead, and liken the current situation to party's struggles after Obama's 2008 election. At the time, some pundits questioned the viability of the Republican Party. But it came roaring back two years later, thanks largely to the tea party.

"If we have learned anything from the fiscal cliff fiasco, conservatives discovered we need to stand firm, and stand together, on our principles from beginning to end," said Republican strategist Alice Stewart. "It's frustrating to see the GOP drop the ball and turn a position of true compromise into total surrender. The Democrats succeeded in their strategy of divide and conquer."

 

Comments

OMG.LOL.WT_

A POX ON THEM ALL- Democrat or republican

Licorice Schtick

The Republicans' style of "negotiating" is to tell you what they're gonna take, and tell what you're gonna get, which is only what you don't want.

There is no win-win with Republicans because a happy opponent makes them unhappy.

WiredMamba666

Parties are fun, but I hate politics.

Taxed Enough Already

lol I love the "angry" part. ROFL

Dr. Information

Liberal Sandumy Rejectar at it again.

rottnrog

The tea party will lead to the death of the republican party !!!

Horace Mann

Where do I donate?

Licorice Schtick

Pretty much.

There was a broad consensus that Romney had the best chance, but he had to paint himself into a wing nut corner to win the nomination.

The Republican Party leadership deluded themselves into thinking they could win, and needed to believe it to keep the contributions coming. The delusion continues as they explain away their loss with every convoluted reason but the correct one - that despite having their very own Faux News TV propaganda channel, their platform just ain't convincing the moderate "swing" voters, who perceive it as too extreme.

He who holds the center wins. Republican moderates know this and are going crazy trying to figure out how to pry the agenda away from the wing nuts, but the primary system leaves the Tea Party calling the tunes.

Contrary to the wingnuts' contention that the Democrats are a bunch of commies, the prevailing view of The Voters, as evidenced by the last election results, is that the Democrats are more reasonable than the Republicans, or at least the extremist who are pulling their strings.

KnuckleDragger

Kinda like the far left has made the democrat party irrelavent, huh?

shucks

I hope they're gone soon. They are planning more trouble.

John Harville

Unfortunately, today's Rasmussen poll shows only 8% of voters now identify themselves as members of the TEA Party - down from 24% in 2010. Soon to go the way of the Dodo Bird?

goofus

I know the left hates history, but the Tea Party was a direct result of the Barry Soetero TARP policy and the stimulus. Doesn't declared memberships in the democratic and republican fluctuate up and down over time and political whims? Keep wishing on your star!!

There you go again

I believe our divider-in-chief has preyed on the House since the fiscal cliff debacle began to haunt us. He is really good at manipulating people and facts to create sides (ie., women, Hispanics, gays/lesbians, rich/poor). It is Mr. Obama's plan....and he is good at undermining people!

goofus

Keep dreaming leftists, what you have is a simple little spat between the country club republicans and the conservatives. Alittle hint, the conservatives and the tea party will win out!!!!!

shucks

It's time for the GOP to disappear.

They are hurting the USA.

goofus

So it has come to this, the elimination of the other political party to only allow the democratic party, sounds like communism to me!!!

shucks

Goofus,doofus
How about another party? A party that cares about the State of the Union rather than their petty, selfish, little selves?
Does that sound like communism ?

goofus

Please explain to me how the republicans do not care about this country, sources and not opinion would help!!!

shucks

.

John Harville

Just so you know, there were other parties in the ELECTED Soviet. If there is elimination, it is the Tea Party - which has less than 30% of the membership it had only two years ago, according to today's Rasmussen poll release. Awww.

John Harville

Goofus... to which leftists to you refer? The great majority of Democrats are right-leaning moderates who recognize the individual responsibility to provide for the operation of the country for the greater good of We The People; that we who benefit from the great prosperity of this country (you're communicating on a computer, after all) have a responsibility to proved for those who don't benefit. Hint: It's Biblical.

goofus

Huh, right leaning moderates? I fail to see where, the jacksonian democrats have now been incorporated into the progressive wings. You sir will have to prove the existence of JFK style democrats.

Ask not what your country can do for you
but what you can do for the country

John Harville

Goofus! THANK YOU!!! You chose the ONE Democrat who lived and governed by the Right-leaning Biblical philosphy to which I referred "To those who much is given, much will be expected." President Obama leans to the right in his philosphies... and other Democrats with him: Affordable Health Care for all is a very Kennedy philosophy - unlike the Medicare Advantage (donut hole) unfunded program put forth by Republicans to enrich the insurance companies and make health care more expensive for senior citizens. "...what you can do for your country" refers to making the American Dream available broadly and more deeply.
But you know that don't you... as much as it galls you.

goofus

How can ordinary John Does make the American Dream available? They must find it within themselves to better their lot in life. I take it you actually have JFK's original explanation of his quote and not just opining!!! How can a progressive ever lean to the right. Besides running rum, not every Kennedy had the right solution.

shucks

.

John Harville

Kennedy never said why he chose those words without attribruting them to an original speaker/writer since its origin can be found in Greek literature. Yes. I know how his intent was interpreted. I know the effect it had on youth when it was spoken and the inspiration it is still today. We joined the Peace Corps, VISTA, and the Kennedy brothers were the inspiration for Head Start - which is one of the many ways John Doe makes The American Dream available to Americans all along the Conservative/Progressive spectrum. Stop hating. Did you hear Kennedy deliver his speech?

CAST THE FIRST STONE

wow the ap had a anti republican story...what news is that.same old..change the name to the obama times

Horace Mann

Calling the SR "liberal" is absurd.

This is an example of how the right wing is running the GOP into oblivion. "You're either with us or against us." You need to be on the far right on EVERY issue - lockstep - or they call you a commie. They call objective reporting "liberal" (in the pejorative sense) or even "leftist," because they can't hold up to truthful scrutiny.

rickross2

During the most recent "Between the Lines" interview, Westerhold had a large pic of....thats right, Obama. It took up half of his bulletin board. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with his personal views.

CAST THE FIRST STONE

true statement..you either want to tax and spend or you dont. There is no middle ground anymoreI have always been honest on taxes etc.. no more i have to protect mine at all cost.. no more high school football $. No more booster money..no more band booster..no more levys. I am my own charity now. Cash jobs never before but will now. Smart people will get around most of this. How do you think we got it in the first place.

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