Friday, December 07, 2012

 

The Party's Over, It's all over, my friend


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 It was some two years ago in the wake of the 2010 mid-Term elections that I mentioned to Fritz that I didn't know how much longer the Republicans could continue to countenance the Tea Party within their midst.  What had begun as a grass roots popular movement in the interests of limiting the size of government and solving the national debt crisis, had gathered some high-powered support and some even higher-powered financial backing.  Interestingly, in light of Conservative jeering at the equally grass roots popular Occupy movement for not having a leadership structure, the Tea Party had no actual leader or national organization.

In time for the 2010 elections, however, they had some Major Figures in the Republican Party cheering them on, and had begun efforts to push the Party ever further to the Right.  What was interesting was that their efforts to unseat certain incumbents in the Senate and House, and to defeat certain candidates for Congress, were directed less at Democrats and more at Republicans whom the Tea Party had decided were not radically Right enough to meet its standards.  Several popular, effective and well-respected moderate Republicans, the type I think of "sane Republicans," were voted out of office, largely due to the Tea Party's growing muscle.

The question of how long this would be allowed to go on is now being answered.  Earlier this week, Speaker of the House John Boehner and the Republican Steering Committee instigated instigated a purge of four Representatives who are so radically Right that they refuse any and all compromise, and vote against the Party's wishes if they feel it's too "soft" on an issue.   Reps. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were removed from the Financial Services Committee; Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas were removed from the Budget Committee.   Amash and Huelskamp were held particularly guilty for voting against failed Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan's proposed economic plan which, wacky and mathematically challenged though it is, still wasn't radical enough for them.

Hostile reaction was immediate from Tea Party members (if there can be "members" of something that isn't organized) and supporters.  Leaders of several conservative political organizations protested stridently (Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham called Schweikert’s ouster “unthinkable”) while failed half-term Alaskan governor and failed Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin leveled a threat to Party leadership that their action “won’t be forgotten come 2014.  We send good conservatives to D.C. to fulfill the promises they made to the electorate, and yet when they stay true to their word, the permanent political class in their own party punishes them."

I'm not sure how much clout Ms. Palin still has with the Republican Party given the multiple embarrassments she's laid on their doorstep, but the situation did at least give her something to do other than watch her daughter fail one more time on Dancing With The Stars.  In a statement oddly similar to Ms. Palin's (I wonder who cribbed who's press release), Rep. Jim Jordan told Breitbart News, “It’s unfortunate and unhealthy for our party that principled conservatives are being punished for voting their consciences and keeping the promises they made to their constituents.” 

Furthering the "Republicans eat their own" movement Ned Ryun, president and CEO of American Majority Action fired off: “Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as Speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives.  Boehner has never won a negotiation battle with the White House or Senate — and he’s been nothing short of an embarrassing spokesman for the conservative movement. It’s time for him to go.”  AMA's strategy is to get 16 Republians not to vote for Boehner when it is time to re-elect the Speaker in January, which would throw him out of the position and give it to someone (they hope) much further Right. 


There was even reaction over in the Senate where Senator Jim DeMint, who had supported the Tea party and campaigned tirelessly for its candidates,  resigned abruptly and unexpectedly to assume control of The Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C.'s most conservative think tank.  He plans to use the THF position to drive the Republican Party further and further Right even as it's picking its way through the election debacle and finally beginning to realize that Radical Right is wrong according to the American people.
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Another victim of the Tea Party in the Senate was the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities treaty (excerpted from the Boston Globe):
 
Since the United States is already basically in compliance with this treaty, it is bizarre and unfortunate that the US Senate fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify it. Passage would have allowed the United States to participate fully in UN meetings on this issue, joining 126 other countries that have already ratified it.
The vote would have been easier to take had the treaty’s opponents offered rational, factual arguments to secure its defeat. Instead, the treaty fell victim to scare tactics, wildly inaccurate statements, and rote ideological claptrap.  Jim DeMint of South Carolina, for instance, claimed the treaty would give “international bureaucrats” control over “issues that should be addressed by states, local governments, and American parents.” In reality, the treaty only sets up a committee that makes non-binding recommendations.

Mike Lee of Utah claimed that the treaty threatened home-schooling. In reality, it doesn’t change US law at all, but merely asserts that disabled children have a right to an education.
Pro-life groups claimed that the treaty had a stealth agenda to sterilize and abort the disabled. In reality, the treaty merely calls on countries to provide disabled people with “affordable health care including in the area of sexual and reproductive health.” 
Perhaps the most alarming thing about the vote was how starkly it illustrated the extent to which the Tea Party has taken control of the Republican soul. Old-guard Republicans supported the treaty, which was negotiated under President George W. Bush. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was one of its fiercest champions. To support the treaty, former Senator Bob Dole, who was once among the party’s most powerful figures, showed up in his wheelchair during the vote. Yet the Tea Party — which treats collaboration with other governments and the United Nations as a surrender of US sovereignty — killed the treaty -- a small number of extremists managed to block progress for millions of people. 

My own personal feelings (not surprisingly): The last American Tea Party featured tea being dumped overboard.  For the good of the American people, let alone the Republican Party, the time has come to dump the Tea Party itself overboard.
 

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Comments:
A very interesting read, as always. I especially enjoyed the tattoo photo. I've seen it around the web but it never fails to give me a chuckle. :)
 
I so love that tattoo photo and caption.
 
I always learn so much from these types of posts.
 
Let dog eat dog. I hope much the same will happen with our mainstream Tories and their extreme Europhobe faction (not to mention UKIP and the frightful Nigel Farage). That will split the votes, and then hopefully at long last someone will spell out why, for all its huge flaws, European integration is good for us.
 
We live in David Schweikert's district. I don't normally follow the inner working of Republican politics too closely but the primary in the 6th District was especially ugly this year. Due to redistricting there were two incumbent Republicans running against each other for the seat. I was not a fan of Mr. Quayle but he was slightly more moderate. That wold have suited the new 6th district because it includes the City of Scottsdale; which; while not "liberal", is the most liberal area in the Valley. AZ has closed primaries however so only registered Republicans were allowed to vote in the Schweikert/Quayle contest so it went to the more right-wing of the two candidates. I believe in closed primaries but this was one situation where it worked against my interests.
 
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