After the government shutdown, Republicans took a big hit in the polls. A very, very large hit in the polls in fact. It turned out that while various people are willing to talk about what they don’t like about “big government,” there are even more things that the government provides that they do like. While Republicans thought they had a “winning strategy” by using the shutdown to attempt to repeal “Obamacare” (for the 40′th plus time), it turned out that the public thought it was really stupid, particularly when all those things like national parks had to close. Add in a lack of action on any substantive issues, the unpopularity of various Republican governors, and some losses in elections they thought were winnable, and things are starting to get tense for them.
One has only to look at news stories like this:
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” Boehner said loudly. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
“Frankly I just think they’ve lost all credibility,” Boehner said of groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth, who have come out in opposition to the budget compromise deal expected to be voted on later Thursday in the House. “I don’t care what they do.”
Boehner’s rebuke of these outside groups is the culmination of several years of legislative setbacks orchestrated by a tea party wing that views any form of compromise as capitulation.
along with some “revamping” of organizations,
A top operative of a conservative caucus who repeatedly proved to be a thorn in the side of establishment Republicans became the latest casualty of the so-called Republican civil war on Wednesday.
Paul Teller was fired from his job as the executive director of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the group’s current chair. The group sees its mission as pushing an increasingly conservative caucus of House Republicans even further to the right.
to see that there’s some real battles going on inside the Republican Party. It’s not a “civil war,” as some pundits are pointing out.
Sooner or later, and it might as well be sooner, non-Republicans need to accept that the GOP knows exactly where its “soul” is located, and has an agenda that is impervious to significant change. What keeps getting described as a “struggle for the soul” of the party or a “civil war” is generally a fight over strategy, tactics and cosmetics, not ideology. For the foreseeable future, the conquest of the Republican Party by the conservative movement, itself radicalized by the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, is the prevailing reality of politics on the Right, and the GOP’s practical options are accordingly limited to one flavor or another of that persuasion.
If the “battle” is not due to any desires for substantive change in the actual core agenda of the party, what is it then? It’s more realistically due to those polls and some external factors. The Republican “establishment” is running scared. There have been a number of polls showing that the Republican Party is in dire trouble next year, and that the Tea Party’s popularity is sinking like a stone, not only with the general electorate, but with self-identified conservatives. Add in that in various Republican governors tend to spend time vying for the “most unpopular” title in polling, as well as not doing much to actually improve their states, and things are not looking good for them. The reason the “establishment Republicans” are doing what they are traces back to one of the oldest maxims in politics: First, you have to win. What they are looking at is an electorate that is starting to push back against their agenda, asking them hard questions about their alternatives, and they don’t have an answer. They’re looking at not just next year, but in the near future, an electorate that’s changing demographically, and their current outreach efforts have been … botched, to put it mildly. The Teapublicans have blocked even obvious “look good” legislation from passing which might help offset some of their botches. One only has to look at the failures to pass any form of immigration reform, blocking ENDA, voter ID restrictions, and so on to see a litany of efforts to keep the Republican Party outreach dead in the water.
That’s the real reason for the “civil war.” It’s not that the “establishment” is in reality much different from the Tea Party conservatives, it’s that the establishment wants to, at least until after the election, cover up that they’re the same and make themselves look more “reasonable” and “moderate,” while the Tea Party conservatives want to fly their freak flag proudly. The only way to keep that civil war going, and maybe creating a real change in the Republican Party? Democrats have to win. There’s nothing like a series of defeats – and no, one election isn’t it – to make a party decide it has to change direction.
That’s why the mid-term elections next year are important. It’s not just having the ability to pass progressive legislation, although that’s a big factor. It’s also the start of stopping a profoundly regressive movement. All elections are important, a fact that often gets lost on pundits and various web commentators, but this one has some more importance. The pundits are “sure” that Democrats aren’t going to take back the House, and may lose the Senate. It’s time to once again prove them wrong. If there’s a lesson from 2010, it should be that sitting out an election is a sure path to being unable to accomplish anything. The Republicans are running scared, and we should keep them that way. Even more, we should be running scared as well, because the stakes of not being able to regain Congress and state houses are disastrous.