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

Nor'easter

At least they paid for the security for their rally. Amy Grubbe and the local Democratic Committee still owe Sandusky City $2,800.00 for the private Obama Ice Cream Social. PAY UP!

John Harville

Cite facts.

thinkagain

AMERICA is divided and angry as ever! A party is not supposed to be one mindless entity that just agrees on everything. Unless you’re a locked step, goose-stepping follower of a certain narcissistic megalomaniac Democrat.

John Harville

"It is our only goal to make sure this is a one-term president." aka "one mindless entity" goose-stepping into oblivion unless they begin to act for United States citizens and not just some base of whom they are almost paralyzed in their unnatural and unnecessry fear.

shucks

thinkagain

Your opinion perfectly describes the Republicans.

goofus

Deary me, the leftists are getting very cranky. Wondering if it has to do with the White House stating that Obozo is working on executive orders with the AG to control guns. Alot of democratic governors have mentioned confiscation!!!!

John Harville

There are NOT 'a lot' of Democratic governors.

Since Newtown, 673 persons have been killed by lunatics using guns...cuz guns don't kill people.

An executive order brings a period of calm and reason.. 74% of the NRA want reasonable controls on waiting periods and strict controls on gun shows where no background checks are required.

In a lot of places you need a background check to adopt a dog at a pound.

goofus

cite facts

John Harville

Swamp; Fox did it below.... only 19 dem governors... not 'alot', huh? What other facts?

John Harville

Again... mine is the last word.

Swamp Fox

We must be correct in our views, we are the right..

Licorice Schtick

Paranoid, name-calling, babbling rant.

Licorice Schtick

Why can't people just make reasoned arguments here?

John Harville

Yeah... there are not a 'lot of Democrat governors'. My point. Yours?

John Harville

It;s amazing how one confused right-winger can be so wrong about so many things in so little space.
Actually, the Democrats are the only ones who pay attention to and understand the Constitution as it exists today. The Right wants to return to the 'original' as it existed in 1787...but it was so perfect it needed 10 amendments to get ratified...

goofus

You have to know by now that no one was inducted into the baseball hall of fame. Writers had a difficult time weeding out the steroid users, we all know that the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party!! No one in hall, it's the tea parties fault right leftists!!!

John Harville

Goofy... you'll just try to pick a fight anywhere, huh?

thinkagain

Are Democrats serious about addressing deficit spending? Yes! They plan a solution where 99% of us can live off of what they steal from the 1% who still work. It’s just that Math is a difficult concept for a Dumbocrat. Clearly one must take an IQ test and score below 70 to be admitted into the DNC.

The Big Dog's back

Another angry repub.

OMG.LOL.WT_

opinion
Contrary to what many people who add 'definitions' here think, Opinion is not the same as Definition. Opinion is the usually biased twisting of facts based on someone's viewpoint. Definition is impartial fact.
Definition: "The USA is a powerful English-speaking country in North America. It's population is approximately 295 million."

Opinion: "The USA is a country full of ignorant, fat rich b8st8ards who exploit poorer countries so that they can munch more burgers and get even fatter"

John Harville

omg. good effort... but a definition - by definition - must be precise. "The United States of America is a country on the Continent of North America comprised of 50 states with an elected bicamaral legislature, an elected president, and a supreme court appointed by the other two branches; its government operates under a Constitution ratified in 1789 and amended 27 times." However, the 'opinion' fits your definition.

KURTje

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal information.

shucks

GOP = Grumpy Old People

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).

meowmix

So very, very tired of your portrayal of Democrats being welfare recipients. Seems to me by below it only proves that the largest sponges are righties.

With the exception of swing state Florida, the top 10 states with the highest percentage of the population not paying income taxes are the reddest states in the country. And when you look at who doesn’t pay in Flordia (retirees and lower-income workers in the panhandle), most of them are Republicans too.

So, Swampy, feel free to stand in line without shame and get your free cheese. It's the republican way.

Contango

@ meowmix:

Perhaps it's time to do away with the taxpayer "loophole" of federally deducting state and local income taxes, so the "blue" states could see how much their govt. is actually costing them?

Why should the rest of the non-state and local income tax paying states help to support profligate "blue" state spending?

meowmix

Wow, I haven't been able to take advantage of that "loophole" for quite some time Contango. I don't have any other itemized deductions to claim--my palatial estate is paid for. But why would you want to take that "loophole" away from common middle class workers anyway?

Contango

@ meowmix:

Individuals in states without state and local income taxes are at a disadvantage.

John Harville

And those states would be?

John Harville

Only seven states have no STATE income tax. Every state has local income taxes. Only five have no state sales tax. So how does this impact your point?

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