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October 17, 2013

"Tea Party" Vs. The GOP

Part of the on-going GOP vs. "Tea Party" civil war is an insistence by the GOP that the tea party needs to focus more on Democrats than conservative "purity tests" (one example).

This illustrates one of the big problems in the current battle, Republicans still don't get the nature of the insurgency movement. The "tea party" isn't about going after Democrats, that's the job of the GOP, conservatives are increasingly focused on policing the GOP.

For too long the GOP has wooed conservatives by talking tough but acting very moderate when elected. I think you can trace it back to George H.W. Bush breaking his "no new taxes" pledge. Conservatives rallied around the elder Bush and put aside their distrust and dislike of him mostly out of respect for Ronald Reagan only to find out Bush the Elder was exactly who conservatives thought he was all along...an old school country club Republican.

Last night on the podcast we talked about how a lot of these differences were papered over during George W. Bush's tenure. I argued to a large extent that was a result of 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror. I said during the 2004 elections that had it not been for national security I would have wanted W. to face a primary challenge from the right and I think he might have been.

Conservative voters are feeling neglected betrayed and unappreciated by the GOP (and I think for good reason). Instead of telling conservatives to suck it up and fight Democrats, Republicans are going to have to treat conservatives as voters they have to woo. Maybe instead of telling conservatives to shut up and fight Democrats they should spend sometime telling conservatives what the GOP has done for them (and, "but the Democrats really suck" isn't good enough). If the GOP has been so good for conservatives (and I mean small government conservatives here), it shouldn't be hard to come up with a long list of positive achievements. Of course, there will be an alternative and likely longer list of GOP actions against small government conservative interests.

Increasingly the GOP is going to have convince wayward conservatives the GOP is good for them like they try and win over any other voting bloc. You don't see the GOP berating moderates, women, minorities or other blocs that aren't assumed to be part of the base the way they do "tea party" conservatives.

And like any group of transactional voters, the GOP is going to have to deliver if they want to keep conservatives on board. What we are seeing is the days of assuming quiet conservative compliance unrelated to what's being delivered by the GOP are coming to an end.

I understand that the GOP "establishment" feels under siege from the right and wants to see that heat turned on the Democrats but they should understand that discomfort they are feeling is a feature, not a bug of the "tea party" movement. It's in the GOP's interest to act accordingly.

No one likes the Internal Affairs types and honest efforts to uncover wrong doing can lead to witch hunts but the GOP has shown itself unworthy of the trust conservatives have placed in it and this is the new reality. The sooner the mainline GOP accepts the new reality, the sooner things can begin to settle down.

Of course, the GOP may decide that they can simply live without the right wing and file for divorce. As Reagan famously said, it's a time for choosing.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:35 AM

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