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

goofus

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Libel and defamation.

John Harville

Goofus. Did you defame one of us? That's what happens when you run out of discussion points.

John Harville

Swamp... if we accept your proposition, why is the far left so angry with the Democrats?
"What diversity politically..."? Dunno. The Democrats are concentrating on their Constitutional purpose - to represent the best interest of US citizens.

Contango

"The Santa Claus Principle":

"From day to day it becomes more obvious that large-scale additions to the amount of public expenditure cannot be financed by 'soaking the rich,' but that the burden must be carried by the masses."

"Every penny of additional government spending will have to be collected from precisely those people who hitherto have been intent upon shifting the main burden to other groups."

- Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action" (1948)

http://mises.org/daily/6313/The-...

2cents

One of my (middle class) employees came to me yesterday and said the calculation showed his pay would be taxed another $100.00 a month as of 1/1/2013. Smoke and mirrors from the White House on that one again!

Contango

So do you think that the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" was "perhaps" misnamed?

I've read that many Obama supporters are complaining that the tax changes "weren't properly explained to them."

John Harville

Wow 2... you pay your employees very well! Congratualtions. So glad you are proud that your employees (middle class) are conscious of their incomes. Probably because the temporary payroll tax relief bill - intended to last only to get through the recession - was not renewed by Conress.

2cents

(John) I pay my employees based on their value and qualifications. Many times employees make more than the owners, depending on the economy. There are good years and there are bad years, this is something owners have to deal with, most employees’ compensation is steady, yet some people criticize owners as being greedy. It takes a certain mentality to start a company and to keep one in operation for 30 plus years. It is even more difficult in a global economy where the playing field is not even close from one continent to another!

The Big Dog's back

Sounds like you will vote Democratic from now on.

John Harville

@2cents... most employees' compensation is steady? Not including the ones who get laid off or riffed?
The greatest joy of the American Way is the opportunity to own one's own business.

John Harville

now you're quoting ancient Austrian socialists?

bucknut36

David Frum was a speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush. He said the GOP is now run by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. I say that is pretty obvious.

Swamp Fox

bucknut36, thanks for giving an example to prove my point, Republicans have diverse views from conservative, moderate and yes even the Tea Party, where as the democrappers march in lock step towards the far wacko left lead by the messiah and the Santa Claus mentality.... The left news is from PMSNBC with their low ratings, Fox leads all cable news in ratings, which indicates a wider, better educated diverse audience...

shucks

Swampy,

Naw.
Big numbers = lots of idiots.

The Big Dog's back

Actually swampy that means you righties are huddled around the TV and radio watching and listening to fox and rush to get your marching orders.

John Harville

Swamp... did you say that with a straight face?

John Harville

Swamp... could you at least quote figures later than 08 January 2010 from 'Virgina Yes' news - and extremely RIGHT WING . That's right ... 2010! The article even lists the ONLY leader outside FOX as KEITH OLBERMAN ON MSNBC.
IF you have newer, more reliable figures, please post them. Otherwise we'll know you have just proved OUR point that the TP and the Right Wing are failing.

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).

John Harville

SWamp... what did you call me?

KURTje

Lots of crying . You lost. The end.

John Harville

RAssmussen today says only 8% of eligible voters identify as members of the Tea Party.

John Harville

The last bastion of someone with no point or with no facts to support pointless posts is, yep, namecalling. And we see who has given up arguing with facts - or with support for those facts.
Progressives are out here organizing their communities while the Tea Party is trying to figure out what happened and caucusing to come up with new names to call.

John Harville

RaAsmussen TODAY... in a poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted January 3-4 shows nationwide only EIGHT PERCENT of voters identify themselves as Tea Party (downn from 24% in 2010). 56% of Americans see the Tea Party in decline nationally. OOOPs. Let us remember Rasmussen ALWAYS leans right.

Swamp Fox

You wanted the most recent numbers, read it if you can, its simple enough even for you to understand.

www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/cat...

As for your fixation on the Tea Party my quote only included them in a much larger diverse group. Hey you lefties now have a new media outlet its called Al Jazeera thanks to clueless Al Gore and his sell out of his employees, many of them being middle class, enjoy democrappers...

John Harville

Really simple. Check every time. In virtually all of them the others as a diverse group of viewers outdistances Fox. Ya see, we diversify. Some of those Fox numbers are us tuning in for some comic relief or to because we like to watch the manatee and the clown. Al Jazeera has been available here a long time - just now gets a broader audience. Scares the Al bejezus outa Fox because it is possible to get another bias on news in America and around the world. And we have the ability to think for ourselves and use our much broader experience to actually develop opinions on our own without waiting for someone to give them to us. I'm sorry.... that was beyond you, huh?

bucknut36

Pres. Obama did not get re-elected because he was such a great President. He won because the Republican field looked like a clown car. Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, really? The most qualified person was Huntsman. The far right nut jobs did not like him because he held an Obama appointed position. Chris Christie is right. The GOP cares more about party than they do country!!!

John Harville

Huntsman would have won.

Factitious

Um, no.

The incumbancy is such a huge advantage that event that idiot Dubya Bush got re-elected.

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.

Swamp Fox

Sadly Obama got re-elected because many Americans have become, the goverment should take care of me menality and I want, I want, and have bought into the Santa Claus mentality of government..... We should return to the JFK statemen,"ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.."

John Harville

What about the Thousand Points of Light?

Pages