For the past four years it seems that every pundit in America has predicted, and heralded the demise of the Republican brand if not the entire movement. It has been the same for the Koch brothers’ tea party movement. Still, tea party Republicans control both houses of Congress despite an alleged chasm between what commentators label the extremist and the moderate wings of the Republican movement. There may be slightly varying methods of achieving conservative goals, but Republicans of all stripes are unified in their stated goals and will go to any length to achieve them.
Some Americans are deluded in thinking Republicans want to govern; they certainly do not. Governing entails compromise and working in a bipartisan fashion for the good of the entire nation; Republicans are disinterested in doing either and consider the former a horrible weakness and the latter an abomination before their Koch gods. Their goal is unilaterally dictating according to hard-right conservatism and working solely for the good of the rich and the religious; anything else is anathema to Republicans and it is why they believe they are in great shape as a political party going into a general election and a couple of crucial deadlines for the nation.
It is true that there are some tea party extremists who are more vocal than the rest of the Republicans, but their goals are the same and their vision of a conservative America are set in stone and non-negotiable. It is why the base and a substantial number of Republicans were livid with Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and will not be sated until McConnell joins Boehner in the unemployment line. Now that House Republicans are looking for new leadership, and despite that all Republicans embrace tea party extremism, many pundits claim the party is fractured, falling apart, and in trouble because they “appear” more interested in appeasing a very small and extremist cabal and base than governing a diverse country.
There is still a misconception among some Americans over what the Republican brand is these days, but make no mistake, although there “appears” to be some semi-moderate Republicans in Congress, the entire party adheres to everything the so-called extremists support. The only difference between “mainstream” Republicans and extremist tea partiers is the degree of transparency. Where mainstream Republicans are likely to keep their extremism cloaked with phony moderation, the tea party caucus is unafraid to broadcast exactly what they want to do, how they intend to succeed, and Hell-bent to see their anti-government agenda to fruition. That is why Speaker John Boehner could not control the House to govern and why the extremists and the base wanted him out; not because he was too moderate or did not embrace their extremist agenda, but because he could not deliver on the GOP’s extremist agenda.
The day Boehner announced he would resign, a WSJ-NBC poll revealed that “72% of Republican primary voters said they were dissatisfied with the ability of Mr. Boehner and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell to achieve Republican goals.” If the House Freedom Caucus, their “anointed” leader Ted Cruz, or the Republican base think for a nano-second that a new leader of their choosing will be any more capable of “achieving extremist Republicans’ anti-government” goals, they are going to be very disappointed; not dissuaded, just disappointed. Subsequently, they will double-down on their extremism and the Party will officially acquiesce to their methodology and carry on promising the base they will achieve their goals.
Many in the Party will comprehend that Boehner’s failure was not being successful at imposing the extremists’ policies on the nation, but without the votes to dictate religious tea party extremism as national policy, there was little he could do to be the extremists’ hero. He was left with a choice and had to “compromise between reality and fantasy;” something the next speaker will avoid like plague and choose fantasy. It may be why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the time to explain to the so-called “extremist” Republicans how the government works and why they would not “achieve Republicans’ goal” of killing off Planned Parenthood; something near and dear to McConnell’s heart. He said;
“We just don’t have the votes to achieve the outcome that we’d like. Again, the president has the pen to sign it. If he doesn’t sign it, it doesn’t happen. I would remind everyone that the way you make a law in this country, the Congress has to pass it and the president has to sign it.”
Now, since neither the more vocal wing, not more extreme, of the party nor the Republican base can comprehend a simple fact they should have learned in 8th grade history class, they chased Boehner out, set their sights on McConnell, and are deluded in thinking that a new House Speaker will succeed in “achieving Republican goals.” If it means shutting down the government when the debt ceiling increase comes up, or when a budget comes due in mid-December, Republicans will do their worst if for no other reason than boasting to their base that they moved heaven and Earth, and damaged the nation, in their crusade to “achieve Republican goals.”
It is noteworthy that for the more extreme Republicans, shutting down the government is winning strategy even if they fail to achieve their goals; and they are intent on shutting down the government. They know that two years ago when they shut down the government there was not only no fallout, they cemented their majority in the House for a couple of elections cycles, at least, and won control of the Senate. According to their mindset, being extreme, shutting down the government, and costing it tens-of-billions of dollars in their crusade to achieve conservative goals not only won them control of Congress, it demonstrated to their base that they will do whatever it takes to impose Republican goals on the nation; subsequently their base rewarded them and turned out in droves the following November and won the day.
The results of the WSJ-NBC poll strongly suggest that Republicans are not as fractured or far apart from what Republican voters demand if at all. Look, the Republican House will continue to have the power, if not to dictate their extremist agenda on the nation, at least to obstruct any meaningful progress or legislation that might help the American people no matter if they lose the Senate and fail to win the White House in 2016. After all, they have spent the past five years succeeding wildly to block progress on issues the American people overwhelmingly support. Where they have “failed to achieve Republican goals” is in establishing a theocracy, eliminating taxation, suspending 98 percent of the Constitution, and transferring power over government to corporate control. Otherwise, they have obstructed, easily, any progress put forward by President Obama or supported by Democrats because they control the House.
The Republican House is arguably a near-impenetrable fortress for extremist conservatives whether Democrats control the White House and the Senate or not. Because of the House’s “constitutional and political power,” Republicans know, and are extremely confident, that they will retain the ability to obstruct progress in the months ahead no matter who they choose to be Speaker. Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz has already intimated that if he is Speaker nothing will be accomplished, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is, as Rachel Maddow implied, just another Sarah Palin. With either idiot in the Speaker’s chair, House Republicans will make life miserable for Senate Democrats and whatever few moderate Republicans who are interested in violating the tea party extremists’ mantra of never compromising even to govern semi-responsibly.
It may appear that Republicans are deeply divided, but it is division borne of choosing whether to try to “attract a larger swath of voters or to double down on the dwindling core of loyalists.” Between voters ardently supporting a freak of nature like Donald Trump and Republican legislators cheering that they chased John Boehner out of Congress because he failed to “achieve Republicans’ goals, it certainly looks as if Republicans are intent on satisfying the extremists and feeling full of themselves because they think they will succeed. Republicans may be in disarray, but they are on the same extremist page with only one real quandary; how best to destroy America in their crusade to achieve their extremist conservative goals.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.