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."




The corollary:

Calling the SR "conservative" is absurd.

This is an example of how the left wing is running the Democrat Party toward totalitarianism.

"You're either with us or against us." You need to be on the far left on EVERY issue - lockstep - or they call you a Nazi.

They call objective reporting "conservative " (in the pejorative sense) or even "right wing," because they can't hold up to truthful scrutiny.

Doesn't seem to be much political derision in the Dem Party. Unless you're for centrally planned big govt. statism, you're a political outcast.

The Big Dog's back

You either wit us or agin us. GWB.


lol ! yessssir

Dr. Information

I believe GWB was talking about the war on terror. But coming from you, I expect nothing less.

John Harville

Oh Copntango... did you reallly write that? You're the only one I hear calling people 'NAZI'...


saying the register, or at least the people who run it aren't liberal would be absurd


Where have you been? Wondering what rock you have been under, the AP is constantly shilling for Obozo!!!!

John Harville

Stone... Actually, it is a pro-Republican story, warning that the far-right is, brick by brick, dismantling the party of Eisenhower and Regan and, in small part, George I. Eisenhower knew how to let the oppostion (which he faced all but two years) work themselves around to his way of thinking (the National Defense Highway Act? ...and the taxes to pay for it?) Reagan was excellent at negotiating things he wanted - and raised taxes 17 times. Even G-I tried to carry it on but his 'my lips' got him in trouble. Lincoln passed the 13th amendment against strong Democrat opposition. Teddy established the conservation and environment protection movements, set aside funding for the FIRST national park and built a monument - a REPUBLICAN. And he did it with taxpayer dollars. The Tea Party is acting more like the Roaring Twenties Republicans of Teapot Dome, Prohibition(let's invade people's personal lives with our holy indignation), stocks on the margin, Herbert Hoover - and we know how that worked.


Republican or Democrat......You all better brush up on your history lessons. Obama is on his way to becoming our Hitler. Same thing Hitler did in Austria in 1938. Free food, free health care, and a ban on guns. Next step, slavery! Long story short, all you Obama supporters screwed us smart people.

John Harville

Yeah. Study your history. Austria was a prime target because the government had taken everything for itself and failed to provide opportunities for its citizens. The elite few oppressed the many. The Austrians never had experienced democracy nor self-government and got screwed at the end of WWI.
OH... BTW... no one is banning guns. But the truly smart people know they don't have a real use for guns except to hunt, perhaps for self-protection - and, oh yeah, for shooting into an open field near the railroad tracks inside city limits. I never do such things with my gun.


I've been bombarded on this blog about the american elite taking over the middle class. The left has made the 2% a very repetitive talking point, which is it

John Harville


The Bizness

hahhahhahaha conservatives crack me up....

Can you guess what the difference between Hitler and Obama is?

Obama only has 4 more years in office, and there is a presidential election....hmmm strange how a democracy works isn't it?


Hitler was voted into Austria also.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

John Harville

rickross2... and Poland? and Czechoslovakia? and France? and Russia? and....? Was Hitler elected there? While there are some rightwingers who might want to invade Mexico (Sen Ted Cruz R-Tex wants to use drones along the border), I don't know anyone who wants to take Canada or Cuba or the Caribbean...
You really need to study your Austrian/German/Italian history.


JFK came close in the Bay of Pigs crisis. I would love for Cuba to be a semi-democratic country, traveled the island extensively. Love the food and Mojito's.

John Harville

What part/s of the Island did you travel? Or are you referring to your life in the 50s when it was a major travel destination for us elite? It was amazing then.


Dipwad, go to Havana yearly for the Cigar Festival, meet alot of celebs every year!!!!!!

John Harville

RR2 In reality, Hitler (Chancellor of Germany) wasn't on the ballot. The question was whether the Austrians wanted prosperity to be achieved by establishing the Nazi Party there.
Big Difference.
Take your own advice... study your history.


History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes.

Pres. Obama is the symptom, he is not the disease of Fabian Socialism.

One party rule leads to authoritarianism.

The Big Dog's back

winnie, since you are always pasting Business Insider, I thought you might appreciate this.
The IMF Admits It Was Wrong About Keynesianism


@ Brutie:

Better to read Austrian econ or Zero Hedge.

Why not follow their "advice" and borrow and spend your way to wealth?

John Harville

Copntango.... so the Socialist overtaking of the US will be gradual... so gradual we won't notice it. Like the Preamble to the Constitution? Or the Pledge of Allegiance (written by a Socialist and embracing socialist ideas)? For those who don't know, Fabian Socialism began in 1884 as a society of men determined to introduce socialism gradually and inconspicuously instead of by violent overthrow. Of course, Contango likes to throw out ominous terms to scare us. But Fabian Socialism began in the 20s and then grew exponentially under FDR and Johnson.


Woodrow Wilson was the first progressive president and ahead of his time with the creation of the League Of Nations an absolute joke, just like the other progressive FDR and LBJ. As you cans see socialism is a product of the democratic party here in America.

John Harville

TEddy Roosevelt was a Democrat? In what universe? He was much more Progressive than Wilson ... so much so he formed his own party to defeat Ohio's Taft. And who was that other progressive Democrat before Wilson? They just made a movie about him. Oh yeah, Abraham Lincoln. And what's his name, us, from Fremont... uh Hayes - who put a telephone in the White House. But you're prolly right, all those I've named would be Democrats today. Oh oh oh.... I forgot Eisenhower and the National Defense Highway system spanning America with superhighways at taxpayer expense.


Big Boy, you are flat out wrong sir, please cite your sources or references


Might want to recheck the idiocy on the left. They want him to be king and if worse comes to worse under the war powers act he CAN suspend congress.


@ Marshian

Might want to read your links a little better before you shoot your mouth off.

John Harville

Marsh... is that anything like your gods (Rush, Beck, etc.) telling us back in September that Obama was going to use the Bush-era legislation to suspend the election and land warplanes in Port Clinton?