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

John Harville

Just... What ARE the 'founding beliefs'?
Aliens? When did YOUR family arrive here? Because you ARE an alien. And those of us with relatives who came across the land bridge are tired of all of you complaining about 'aliens'.

KURTje

Mad because they lost. Mad because they are divided - Old GOP-Log Cabin Repulican - Tea Party. Now they dislike Nagel (combat vet). Gov. Christy called Boner to task. Great stuff.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I can personally agree with this article and in broad terms as an unelected observer and reporter on the youth in the area, they are upset too. Not that they are enamored to the left-wing (in fact a very surprising amount of people in our community hold the "usual" right-wing sensibilities) but that what comes out of Washington is like if Dumb & Dumber was a syndicated sitcom broadcast every night. In the shop I have heard Democratic leaders referred to as glue-eaters and the Republican party talked about (after this last election) as such:

"Hey so did you hear that the Republican rape guy lost his election?"
"Which one?"

That says something. It also says that our young people ARE paying attention to what is going on, especially since a not-insignificant amount of our community watched the Third Party Debates and also voted for Libertarian candidate Johnson. I (personally) held my nose when I voted and I felt ashamed I had to do so.

Continuing the switch back to my personal views I had sent both local and state GOP leaders an email stating clearly and plainly that I would love nothing more than sit down with them and offer them insight and guidance especially for/from the next generation. I offered to travel to them or host them in my store. No response at all from anyone besides Josh Mandel whom I met personally at a handshake event in Columbus the other month. He, perhaps being a young man as well, responded back and I am working a meeting to sit down with him in the future. Not for Republicanism per-se but for our state and its citizens of all affiliations.

To be fair, I sent our U.S. Rep Kaptur an email (and receive ones from Senator Brown) as well with a similar proposition though that was around New Years so I am not quite as upset with a lack of response so far from her. She is most likely very busy right now so I am willing to wait a few more weeks.

Sometimes it is so aggravating hearing problems and their proposed solutions from real, "common sense" people, here locally in the shop or community; but, having a combined R/L leadership that tends to choose to promote their own self-branded Common Sense(tm), Middle Class(tm), and/or Fair Share(tm) values over entertaining communication from the citizenry. All terms used without permission, copyright D.C. Holdings Inc. 2012. That was obviously satire and grumbling, but not undue versions of each.

But I can at least owe my recent awareness TO the elections and outcomes. Gotta make lemonade and find silver linings. And, if I don't speak, nobody will listen.

Contango

@ The Hero Zone:

I proudly voted for Mr. Johnson and have voted (L) for decades.

I woulda enjoyed seeing Mr. Johnson destroy the Tweedledee and Tweedledum party candidates in the "real" presidential debates.

I only "flipped a coin" (literally) and then "held my nose" (metaphorically) in '08 when I cast my ballot for "born-again" Robt. Barr over Mr. McCain.

I lived in IL at the time and my vote didn't count anyway.

Nice lookin' roof rabbit.

John Harville

Zone. Would you be referring to all those fired up 08 youths who the Republicans assured us would not be coming out in 12? Hmmm.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Youth or not, from what I understand there were many millions less total votes cast for either of the two major candidates this year than four years ago. I have no doubt whatsoever that young people voted for our President, I know many who voted for Governor Romney. And even a dedicated few who voted for the Libertarian candidate seeing neither of the major parties as a viable option. As I mentioned, I held my nose when I voted and I feel poorly that I had to do that. Working with the 18-35 crowd every day, my own thoughts as a 31 year old aside, the sheer amount of disappointment from Republicans and Democrats is palpable. Tending toward the conservative side personally, I have great regret with the party that has usually represented the greater portion of my views. Instead of merely grumbling about it I reached out...and got a handful of air. So I've had to do a lot of soul searching about what to do next.

I am not close-minded to traditionally left policies, in fact I visited the President's campaign office twice during the election season to speak to those people who were dedicated enough to give their time, money, and effort into supporting him. Each time I received a warm reception and was able to have a discussion. I visited the Governor's office zero times, which in retrospect I should have at least gone once. Maybe it would have allowed me to network better to carry my voice and thoughts to local GOP leaders?

But the /overall/ fact that /overall/ voter participation was down, /overall/ views of our national leadership are horrid, and /overall/ many feel as if their voices aren't being heard is frustrating. Focus that to the party I personally tend to relate to better (now arguably it would actually be the Libertarian party if we are putting labels on people) is seemingly divided...it just makes me sigh. But what do I or any others like me do? Join the Democratic party and hope they'll listen instead? Perhaps they will. But I'm so tired of feeling like this.

Phew, that was a bit of a much-needed vent.

John Harville

Ya know, when I was a kid eons ago we played a game in a circle. One would crawl around the circle and plaintively wail to try to get someone to laugh when the one receiving the caterwauling kid's lament had to say "poor pussycat"

John Harville

When I originally posted this I left off 'cat' and the monitor went boiiiiiing and wouldn't let me post. OMG even the monitor has a fishy understanding of the vernacular.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Being open to all kinds of new games, and not having heard that one before, I'll invite you to the store to teach it to our players here. Let me know which day works best and I'll advertise the event on our Facebook and Funcoast. It is always good to learn something new.

Presuming that isn't the reason for your tale, I see no reason to reply with that anecdote. Aside from indirect name-calling? I hope that you wouldn't resort to that especially because I wasn't name-calling (to you nor anyone else) nor being partisan to begin with. If anything my laments were in support of this story which illustrated shortcomings of the GOP, and based on what you have presented I can presume you are not. I think that this reply only serves to illustrate the exact same frustration that young people have (and those that I have expressed here in comments) to those who look at them as upstarts, slackers, punks, pukes, whiners, or know-nothings. The list of hurtful names goes on and on.

So, if you are in fact willing to teach this game at the store please let me know. I would love to be 100% incorrect about the entertained possible reason you replied with what you did. Otherwise nothing constructive came from this, not even a redundant but well-meaning "Well, maybe you SHOULD talk to Amy Grubbe if you are so disenchanted."

shucks

Face it Repugs, your party is damaging the USA.

KnuckleDragger

This coming from someone whose party won't even bring a budget to the Senate floor. Boy are you easily fooled.

shucks

Your opinion comes from a party who wanted to spend trillions of unrequested dollars towards the military but can't find money for the victims of Sandy.
Typical fearful, fear mongering Republican.

remotecontrol

So what is wrong with that? The defense of our nation is one of the only things the Constitution specifically delegates to the federal government. Where in the constitution does it say the federal govt is responsible for funding disaster relief?

shucks

Let me break it down--The Pentagon didn't ask for it. They already spend too much.

I'm pretty sure would be crying for help if a disaster hit you.

goofus

I need facts and sources that say the pentagon never set a budget!!!!

John Harville

remote "provide for the general welfare"

Contango

John Harville writes:

"provide for the general welfare"

So for you that Constitutionally supports the theft and redistribution of private property under the auspices of a centralized authority?

What did the world need Marx for when it had Madison and his fellow collectivists?

So you seriously believe that the colonies woulda signed on to the Constitution with that understanding eh?

http://www.dailypaul.com/103339/...

John Harville

Dragking... READ THE CONSTITUTION. Specifically Article I. Neither party is responsible for bringing forth a budget - nor is the President. Revenue and spending are the DUTY of the House of Representatives. Ideally, the process would be joint. But Rep. Ryan undermined the process. Now, one of the duties of the head of the majority leader of each house is to bring to the floor bills that have a chance of passing.

goofus

I prefer saving the USA from Obozo's overreaches!!!!

shucks

Trolling

John Harville

Goofus. Ya know... I just decided I'm not going to let you go by with your hatespeech and namecalling without askiing for specifics. Inflammatory namecalling and wordbombs just emphasize your inability to create a cogent argument.
Cite three "overreaches'.

goofus

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Co...

A nice article, do you realize there are books written on Barry Soetero's overreaches, you must have a problem with Obozo

John Harville

So you cite a June 2012 article on a website hosted by, sponsored by, paid by a cadre of businesses who have a personal interest, and quoting Greta Van Susteren.
Now. Please cite examples of the President's 'overreaches'. Use of executive privilege? Two words. John Bolton.

BushelBob

The Libertarian Party of Ohio, formed officially in 1972 by mostly women activists led by Kay Haroff with the aim to replace the G.O.P., has been solidly #3 and today is growing. Demopublicans have shown they are little more than two sides of the same coin: Bush had 3 bailouts of the auto industry and Obama followed with 2 more. Martin Luther King, Jr had a dream, but Obombe'em has a drone - compliments of Bush. Meanwhile, U.S. tax victims are on the hook for over $70 trillions in federal government debt borrowed to fund U.S.-powered British Empire. Our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves!

John Harville

Bushel... and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TEx)wants to use Bush's drones on the Mexican border... let's get us some Americans!!!

goofus

Kill Americans, like Border Agent Brian Terry and ICE agen Jaimie Zapata, oh wait a minute, they were killed by Mexicans!!!!

John Harville

... and they knew the risks going in.
But the 9/11 terrorists entered from Canada and Cuba. Drone attack Canada?

goofus

YEP!!!!!!

coasterfan

LOL. All the posts here pretty much prove that the headline of this article hit the nail on the head. Angry Republicans is correct. Odd how they STILL think they have all the answers... Denial is a powerful thing.

KnuckleDragger

They got it wrong, amused is the appropriate word.

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