Will the Tea Party Doom the Republicans, Or Will Realpolitik Win in the End?

by Pitt Griffin on July 29, 2013 · 0 comments

in Politics

When the Tea Party surfaced after Obama’s election in 2008, mainstream Republicans thought they could harness its energy to elect run-of-the-mill conservative candidates. But the Tea Partiers wanted more. To them, there was no candidate too crazy, if his or her platform was slashing the federal government.

Some of their candidates lost, some of them won, and other politicians already in office leaped into their embrace. And they aren’t going away – much to the dismay of the Republican establishment.

Today the conflict between the two factions is over immigration and government spying.

The Republican Party knows it needs to court Hispanics – with a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens. The Tea Party thinks any change in immigration law is a surrender to a tide of criminality and benefit abuse, rolling in from the South.

Steve King has the data and photes to prove that most teenage "illegals" are strangely shaped drug mules.

Steve King has the “data and videos” to prove that most teenage “illegals” are strangely shaped drug mules.

On this subject, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) leads the wacko faction – with his strange remark about adolescent children of undocumented aliens, “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Paul Ryan, when asked to comment on King’s remarks, had the decency to smack King down, “Representative King’s remarks, I disagree with, I disavow, and they’re wrong.” Now, he did say it to a predominantly Hispanic crowd – let’s see if he repeats that in front of a Tea Party conclave.

John Boehner was even more scathing in issuing two rebukes to King, “there’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” He wrote, adding, “Rep. Steve King made comments that I think are deeply offensive and wrong. What he said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”

Steve King didn’t back down, “This isn’t something made up in thin air,” he said in an interview. “I’ve seen it with my eyes and watched the data and video that support what I say, and the longer this dialogue goes, the more the American people will understand what I’m saying is factually correct.” (I doubt, however, that we shall ever see the supporting “data and video”.)

King has been joined by fellow insurgent Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who believes that John Boehner should lose his speakership over his stance on immigration.

If the intramural Republican debate on immigration is between the “realists” and the “wackos”, then the debate over the NSA is between the “anti-terrorists” and the “civil-rightists”. Traditionally Republicans could call any measure “critical for national defense” and the right would go along with it.

king and christie

Representing traditional Republican national security values, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).

But now Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) – of the old style, “find the terrorists, regardless of civil liberties” school of thought – are in a shouting match with Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN) – who is an adherent of the “wait a minute, people have rights” philosophy.

King (no relation to immigration Steve) is incensed that the Republicans might appear weak on national defense, saying of Paul and his ilk, “This is the anti-war, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost 20 years. I don’t want that to happen to our party.”

(Note: King’s position that “tough on terrorism” is key to Republican success, is an inconsistent philosophy, as he was a long-time supporter of the IRA.)

Chris Christie criticized  Paul’s opposition to warrantless NSA spying, saying, “This strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought.”

Representing the new "libertarian" thinking in the Republican party, Sen Rand Paul (R-TN)

Representing the new “libertarian” thinking in the Republican party, Sen Rand Paul (R-TN)

Paul retorted on his Facebook page, “Chris Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.”

Republican support for domestic spying had been nearly unanimous. But the Tea Party has developed a “libertarian” streak reflected in today’s right-wing politics. An amendment offered in the House by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) – to defund the NSA’s warantless wiretapping – was defeated. But it did attract 94 Republican votes.

The Republican Party may do well in the House and Senate races in 2014 – their success will largely depend on the roll-out of Obamacare and the state of the economy – but their prospects for 2016 remain dim if they remain the party of old white men, and divided over them.

(Note: Paul is now slamming King and Christie for what he calls their their “Gimme, gimme, gimme — give me all my [Hurricane] Sandy money now.” It was this kind of heartlessness that led in part to the Republican loss in 2012)



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