Friday, December 07, 2012
The Party's Over, It's all over, my friend
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.
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.