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."




Source? Oh learned one

John Harville

RAndy... to which War Powers Act do you refer? 1973? Passed over Pres. Nixon's veto RESTRICTED powers of the president to wage war - reaffirmed Congress' exclusive power to declare war. Where is the president's power to 'suspend congress'?


Source Please!!!

Licorice Schtick

Comparing Obama to Hitler is silly. Lock-step obedience is a hallmark of facism, and that's what the right wing demands. Look what they did to Gov. Christie for daring to say one nice thing about the President of the United States.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

John Harville

Schtick... I think you meant 'goose-step obedience'.

Licorice Schtick

No, lol, but I suppose that would work, too.


Oh no, a dem representative has introduced legislation to circumvent the two term rule. Obozo wants a third term or president for life!!!!


Oh no, a Republican Senate Minority Leader sponsored a bill to circumvent the two term rule in 1995.
Looks like the Republicans want a third term or president for life!!!!


Really? A republican MINORITY leader tried one time, meanwhile the liberal left tried ten times. Ask yourself oh wise one would Bush have accepted? Such a misguided leftist, I would bet my life Obozo would jump at the chance!!!!!!!


Mr goofus doofus,

Yeah, really.

Here's a link supplied by another right- wingnut. Maybe you can figure it out better than he did. ( I strongly doubt it)


Really Sandusky Register?> Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Lengthy excerpts from other websites.

Sarah Weber

I reviewed and restored your comment 4Shizzle.


thank you

John Harville

Reagan favored such an action in 1986.

It's all posturing and politics. Requires 67 senate votes and 287 house votes to send it to the states which have seven years to come up with approval of 38 state legislatures with 2/3 vote in each state.
It took four years to ratify the 22nd Amendment in 1951 limiting presidential terms to two.
Probably easier to get necessary backing for 6-year one-term.

The Big Dog's back

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


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


I vote and I'm pretty pissed-off, too.

John Harville

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


I love the picture of George Washington with his hand stretched out (on the wall). If you use a magnifier the caption under Mr. Washington says: "Hey! where's my free cell phone" or in confused awe "what were you thinking in November?"



Swamp Fox

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Swamp Fox, you're wrong. Go do some checking on the demographics of those who say they're Dems and those who say they're Reps and you'll find the Dems are a much more diverse group than the GOP. All you have to do is look at the faces of the people attending the Party Conventions every four years. If you think the GOP is a more diverse group than the Dems, you must not understand the meaning of diverse.

The biggest difference between how the two parties operate is the fact that there is no concept similar to RINO in the Democratic Party. If a person is a Democrat and doesn't agree with a wing of the party, they don't automatically get a primary challenger because they're not ideologically good enough.

The GOP fights like cannibals. The Tea Party has destroyed the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. It has become the party of Grover Norquist. How sad for a once great political institution that has forgotten its past and traditions.


jas writes:

"If a person is a Democrat and doesn't agree with a wing of the party, they don't automatically get a primary challenger because they're not ideologically good enough."

What about Joe Lieberman?

Also, didn't that monied carpetbagger Hillary Clinton push aside another candidate for the NY U.S. Senate seat?

John Harville

Are you referring to the preferential primary system?


Joe Lieberman? Neither party wants that untrustworthy guy. The Democrats tolerate diverse viewpoints, but he was a DINO - Dem In Name Only.

Both parties have their internal wrangling, but Dems fight among themselves more publicly (hence, "herding cats") while among the R's, dissenter have more to fear. That's because they're more homogeneous - they're the greedy selfish people, and the D's are Everyone Else.

John Harville

If it is a welfare state... we can thank Republicans and Teapublicans for the market crash in 2008, the recession, the banks crushing homeowners. People only need government help after the government helps 'too big to fail' take their money.


Et tu harville with the revisionist history, Tea Party started in 2009 in response to the stimulus and tarp funds being misspent. Google it and the year 2009 jumps out at you. Young Barry Soetero made a living suing banks for redlining on behalf of his employer Acorn. Banks weren't the enemy, the government through pressure from the government were forced to lower the standards for homeownership by such things as , allowing welfare and ADC payments to add to the prospective homebuyers eligibilty. A google search will reveal the culprit!!!!

John Harville

Acrual formation as a 501c4 was 2009... but the origins go back to 2005 - check it out.


Which proves nothing except that we were actually concerned about Bush's spending.

Just Thinkin

AWWWWWWW !guys come on we need your party to stop the gun grabbing anti American self centered Democraps, I just switched from them gun grabber's to your freedom party,I'll never vote Democrap as long as they keep wandering away from the founding beliefs forget aliens,and welfare for every one who dont want to work.