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Republicans Don’t Actually Need Electoral Opponents in 2014 as They Wage Public Civil War

If midterm election years have a reputation for being tepid and boring, a typically alienating cycle where the opposition party stokes its base with a referendum on the sitting President, 2014 is bucking the script.

By now we’ve all had time to digest the “shocking,” “stunning,” “earthquake” (all terms culled from actual media coverage) that is lame duck House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s ejection from his post by the likes of Tea Party upstart Dave Brat. Brat, an economics professor at Virginia’s Randolph-Macon College, is doing his level best to upend quite a few paradigms. After unseating Cantor while leveraging an infinitesimal campaign budget (you’ve heard the statistic: Brat spent $200,000 – slightly more than what Cantor’s campaign dropped on steak dinners), the most cynical of us are taking another look at the assumption that mass money buys outcomes without exception.


At the same time, Brat demonstrates that earning a PhD in a scientific discipline is no guarantee that data will have bearing on political policy development. Brat won over his conservative district with a staunch anti-immigration position that flies against the express desires of three major constituent groups: economists, business leaders and religious organizations.

But in between Cantor’s surprise overthrow and the tragic and scary events unfolding in a foundering Iraq, another story of GOP cognitive dissonance was somewhat lost in the shuffle. I am speaking of last weekend’s GOP convention in Moscow, Idaho, managed by wannabe House Majority Leader Raul Labrador. I am not sure I could provide a synopsis of the disaster more succinct and factual than writer Betsy Z. Russell of The Spokesman-Review:

“Idaho’s state Republican Party convention degenerated into a fiasco Saturday after attempts to disqualify up to a third of the delegates attending appeared to be succeeding – and the convention ended up adjourning without electing a chairman, setting a platform or doing any of it scheduled business…Far from uniting the deeply divided party, the gathering in Moscow degenerated into dysfunction – though it’s the party that holds every statewide office in Idaho, every seat in the congressional delegation and more than 80 percent of the seats in the state Legislature. It also proved not to be the finest hour for Labrador, whom many looked to as the healer for the fractured party just a day after he announced that he’s running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House; instead, he ended the convention facing jeers and walkouts from his own party members.”


I must own that I gasped audibly at several points while reading the text. June 2014 is the month of conservative schadenfreude that keeps on giving. But once the gleeful laughter recedes, an obvious question presents itself. Why does the party continue warring with itself during the primary season in the absence of any logical reason to do so?

The fallout from the silliness appears to be forcing a premature end to Labrador’s national ambitions before they have an opportunity to gain traction. Boise State University professor emeritus Jim Weatherby, a longtime observer of Idaho politics, noted, “It’s hard to blame all this on Raul Labrador, but on the other hand, this does not strengthen his credentials for a national leadership position, either.”


These increasingly common and bizarre instances of Republican infighting have clearly been a longtime coming. “Mainstream” conservatives asked for this after President Obama’s first election, when they welcomed new radical and reactionary elements to the fold that predicted long-term implosion. And anyone who paid attention to the fall 2013 government shutdown will recall that heated rhetoric was just as often Republican on Republican as it was liberal versus conservative.

The larger lesson may be that the best Democratic strategy for the 2014 midterms is no strategy at all. Sit back, take it easy. Put up your local candidates and support them, but why bother exerting yourself or spending a ton of money to go negative? Conserve your resources and watch your enemies eat other.


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  • add, that our good pals the kochs, are going all out and spending 300 million to stop any progressives running. so with that, and all their secret and not so secret orgs, they might just get away with their coup d`etat.

    • What will hurt us in 2014 is gerrymandered districts. This is due to so many left leaners not voting in 2010. That is when the last census was taken. In most states the party that runs the states gets to draw the voting district lines. So we are stuck with these lines until the next census of 2020. Let's hope we have not lost the lesson.
      On another note Kos (Daily Kos) was on the radio talking about the polls of now compared to 2010. In 2010 the difference in women who supported the repubs v Dems was only 1%. Now women support the Dems by over 30%! So if women vote we win! In Michigan the repubs have an all out war on women, seniors, education etc. Women here have a chance to get rid of the "nerd" gov and the RWNJs in Lansing. Let's hope women vote in 2014.

  • One effective way of swaying public opinion is to post in your local newspaper. Keep submitting opinions in you local newspaper until they print them. They will. Present fact and voting records. People will listen.

    Tell them I don't care who you you vote for, just be informed. It works.

  • I do not know if the do nothing approach is viable. I think Dems and Progs need to go on the offensive, not negative, but daily present the facts, expose the lies, the voting records, out the ALEC cronies, name the KOCH lackeys, the financial cost of Republican obstructionism, call people based on their actions, i.e. the Tea Party Patriot = domestic terrorist, etc.

  • Sitting back and doing nothing is a strategy for failure.The democratic party has to aggressively get out the vote.The 2012 elections had over 1.5 million more votes for democratic candidates,yet failed to take the house.Should republiclowns take the senate they will impeach Obama.All elections are important.VOTE

  • With 3.7 million unregistered African Americans and 4 million unregistered Latinos and Asian Americans in the 13 "Black Belt" states from Delaware to Texas that have had large black populations since slave times, there are tremendous opportunities for changing the outcome of elections in states that people think is unwinnable.

    The days of the baggers are coming to an end if we just register and vote. Slick TV ads don't do anything but enrich the very people who are against progressivism. Put that money into educating the people to register and vote

    How Many Voters Of Color Does It Take To Shift Political Power In The South?

    • Well the democrats have got to get a army of volunteers to get out and walk door to door and register these people to vote. I would use a week of vacation time to do this! Then car pool to the polls....

  • Becky, is going against economist, business leaders and religious leader a lament?
    I would think that platform would have any progressive lining up to support and vote for him, even as a republican. Of course somebody in the media would have to tell them that.

    Or do you mean that as a way to diminish and demean a party having some genuine debate? That would require some independent thought a real challenge and scare for a progressive.

  • "Brat attended Hope College in Michigan and received a B.A. in Business Administration in 1986; he also graduated with a Master's degree in Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1990 and earned a Ph.D in economics from American University in 1995."

    He has no degree in science, he is not a scientist.

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