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."




@ coasterfan:

And as well, the Soviets thought that they were ideological correct, up until the time that their regime collapsed.

Enjoy the "temporary" tyranny of the majority.

History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes - it is a pendulum.

John Harville

Contango.. sorry old man, you gotta prove your 'Soviet' point. The leaders of the Soviets actual had an ideology beyond enriching themselves?


Did Stalin's ideology include the killing of scores of dissenters? Murder certainly must have enriched him or his victims.


@ John Harville:

The members of the nomenklatura DID enrich themselves. Not unlike our DC ruling class.

So in your mind, the Soviets failure was in the execution of the ideology only? Under the proper leadership it was sound?

John Harville

1917-1989... something worked for the 'citizen uprising'. You should recall that America loved Stalin through WWII - made him an ally. We coexisted with the Soviets congenially until Kruschev planted bombs in Cuba and banged his shoe on the table. We put 'under God' n our Socialist-written pledge in 1956 after McCarthy started turning up Reds under rocks. My parents upset me when they refused to build a fallout shelter - all the while we were building more atomic bombs. Don't drink the milk cuz radiation from our bomb tests falls on the grass the cows eat and radiates their milk. "Duck and Cover"! RED DAWN.


John Harville writes:

"We coexisted with the Soviets congenially,"


So why didn't the U.S. even recognize the govt. until 1933?

There were spies in State and other U.S. depts. KGB files confirmed it.

Don S

Amy Kremer and her Tea Party are destroying the fabric of congress. Their williness not to say 'yes' to anything is not what they were sent to do in Washington. The speaker Boner is the picture of what the GOP supporters have become, sobbing and ineffective and obstructive.


Since we are name dropping, how about I drop one; Harry Reid.


Do you actually read your posts, they were sent to Washington by people who wanted to stop obozo's agenda!!!!!

John Harville

Goofus... again with the namecalling. Just can't frame a cogent and defensible argument, huh?
If they were being sent to stop 'the Obama Agenda' why are there fewer now than 10 days ago? Look at all the money Kochs and Diment and Rove and others poured into the campaigns - Diment and the Kochs owned Josh Mandel - and still lost Ohio, among others. Except for the Gerrymander here in Ohio, the Dems would have won even more - overall they cast more votes in the state.


Excuse me, but I feel I still live in a benevolent society. Some people thought Barry deserved a second chance, I didn't. All the smear ads run by the democrats had some effect. Please furnish sources that Diment and the Kochs owned Josh Mandel. Conversely look at the Obozo donors and all their money and I an anxiously awaiting your sources for the financial report on both campaigns.

John Harville

In your words "Google it". Were you under a rock somewhere? Mandel began his campaign 87 days into office because Diment announced support and made the first huge contribution.
June 27,2011 National Review.


I am sure they are upset, how do you govern when the people of a great nation vote for those who endorse more spending and deficit rather than reigning in the spending to keep this great nation solvent. How often in history does anyone get to watch the destruction of the world’s greatest nation by our own law makers and president one day at a time!

John Harville

2cents... at the risk of being told to 'get over it'... even right wing Republicans - some very prominent - state unequivocally that the deficit is the fault of the Republicans during their 16 years in power - six in total power. Now... again... Democrats, progressives, even some Republicans have to come along and mop up the mess. How would YOU suggest we pay for Bush's War, for the unfunded education mandates, the unfunded Medicare Part D... etc.? Click our ruby slippers together three times? Or are 'those who endorse' the gerrymandered Republicans who made it to Congress?


(John) I believe that we began to do it to ourselves many more years back than that. We now have a huge load on our system and just last year our current administration told people to get more food stamps, rather than to look for work, any kind of work. I will not quote dates here but I believe it was the democrats that advocated the welfare system as a helping hand, this has become a lifestyle for over three generations for many. As a nation we just cannot afford to just keep printing money we cannot fund either. Cuts will hurt but they must be done before we print ourselves into nothing. I do not care who does it but these jokers in DC are doing nothing good right now

John Harville

I don't know how old you are... Early colonies adopted the British poor laws that provided aid for the infirm and public employment for the able-bodied. Congress under the Articles and the Constitution provided aid and employment programs. It came to full head in the Depression when 1/4 of the workforce was unemployed. In the 40s and 50s the predecessor of food stamps was the commodities produced from the government's subsidy of farms by buying the produce and making flour, sugar, CHEESE (my grandfather who was a disabled veteran got commodities). Another feature of government support were the 'poor farms' more generally known as County Homes where homeless lived, worked the farm, and had basic needs provided. In the 70s the unemployed and others had to 'buy' food stamps by spending a portion of cash for the stamps.
But you will have to cite actual proof for your contention that the government encouraged people to get food stamps rather than work. Further cite proof that welfare is 'a way of life'.
Cuts, if they be needed, cannot be made on the backs of the poor, homeless, jobless. How about all the tax breaks we give to business and industry must be earned - jobs for government money or tax breaks? It works in communities where companies are given tax abatements. But in Ohio under Voinovitch, taxes on corporations were phased out, directly impacting schools and communities.
You really need to do some background searching.


"Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone."

Swamp Fox

What diversity politically does the democrappers have? Question, name a national democrapper leader who is moderate? The democrappers under Obama has went as far left as any political party in our history. The moderate blue dogs has been driven out by the far left wackos.


Right. Can someone name an advocate for anti-abortion or for smaller govt. and less tax within the Democrat Party?

The Big Dog's back

Bart Stupak (D Mich)


Ancient History porch puppy!!!!!

John Harville

Since when are those advocacies the province of the Right? And why can one only be 'moderate' if anti-abortion or for smaller government?
Pro-choice is not pro-abortion.
Name one Democrat who has said "I want to kill unborn babies".
No Democrat is out campaign to kill babies.
But name one non-Democrat who is willing to give up the 'choice' to own guns; the 'choice' to attend private schools; the 'choice' to live where they wish;
Democrats - conservative, moderate, progressive understand that if we can take away one choice it becomes easier to take away another and another and another. Unborn children NEVER had rights because they are not breathing Americans. If unborn children had rights they wouldn't be denied birthright and inheritance by parents who put them up for adoption and have the records sealed. Democrats understand that though elected from one state or district, their responsibility is to represent ALL Americans. Republicans - and especially the Right - never have grasped that Constitutional concept.


It's time for the GOP to disappear.

Fact is- THEY have damaged the USA and are continuing to damage.


Such a soviet way of thinking 4 shizzle, one party control, the heck with the will of some people!!!!


Doofus Goofus,

I never said that or meant that. Those are the words of your puppet masters going through your head.
Are you calling the Founding Fathers communists too?
They didn't want any parties.

John Harville

shizzle... good one. You've left him 'keyless'.


thanks john
You're doing good too.


Initially no, but the federalst paper #10 discussed the problem they had with parties.

John Harville

Now you're going back to the Federalist Papers? You mean the one where Madison said no one should pose a problem without proposing a reasonable solution?
And yet they became factionalized in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist and Democratic-Republican party system.

John Harville

for allyouall... "Soviet: an ELECTED governmental body in a communist country".

"elected governmental body" = Congress?