The Tea Party that has embedded itself into the Republican Party is now going on two years old. Their recent strong arm muscular role in the debt ceiling crisis has made it clear their extremism is going to be a big problem for the Republican Party in the future.
Today the Republican Establishment wonders if the grass roots movement will only manage to purge more of the Moderate Republicans and dash the future of the Party on the rocks of unbending ideology.
One true fact is that the Tea Party is already reshaping the Republican Party. In recent past, the once Moderate Republican lawmakers were shifting sharply more to the right, fearing primary challenges from the extremely religious right candidate opponents.
The Tea Party movement’s influence on the Republican Party remains like the double edged sword. Tea Partiers’ adamant opposition to tax hikes helped Republican Party regulars force President Barack Obama to surrender his push for new taxes on the rich. But House Tea Partiers also embarrassed Speaker John Boehner by forcing him to hastily revise his debt ceiling bill.
To secure their votes, Boehner added a balanced budget provision that he intentionally knew had no hope of becoming law. The results of this action only drew ridicule from the more sane and intelligent aspects within the Party. The final draft and weakened requirement stated that the House and Senate would only vote on, not necessarily pass, a balanced budget amendment before the end of the year survived in the final product. Bottom line here, Boehner baffled them with BULLSHIT!
This coming next year, the Tea Party is about to play its first role in a presidential election. Once again the mainstream by comparison “Leaders of the Republican Party” hopes once again to harness its energy in campaigns nationwide, just as they did in 2010 when they welcomed this extreme element into its ranks. The trick is to do it while avoiding the damage it can cause much like “I Am Not A Witch (anymore)” Christine O’Donnell who lost her bid for the Senate seat from Delaware. The Tea Party cost the Republicans likely Senate seat gains by nominating the “Lunatic Fringe” conservatives in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado.
Using the anology of, “Walking The Razor’s Edge” the Republican Party is flirting with a revolt within the Party. Just one little slip on this “Razor’s Edge” tight rope act, and the Republican Party will slice itself in half. For me the Tea Party is going to split and divide the Republican Party.
When asked if another Tea Party insurgent might cost Republicans the White House along with Congressional and Senate seats, the game plan to winning Republican Primaries this next election is to engage the “Dog and Pony Show” of droning on about the “Out Of Control spending that’s taking place in Washington.”
There are many sitting Republican Congressmen and Senators who could loose their seat to challenges from the more Extreme Conservative Tea Party candidates.
Some are seeing even long standing Conservative Republicans loosing to the extremism of the Tea Party such as in Utah where the already conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch has veered so hard to the right that it’s a constant topic of conversation in Washington D.C. with Republican Leadership and is a butt of jokes and amusement. Still, reality is many wonder if he can survive if the two term Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Tea Party favorite, decides to challenge him. (Can you image anyone more Extremely Conservative than Orrin Hatch?)
Running for Senate again, Wilson has pledged to oppose raising the nation’s debt ceiling unless Congress passes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. That requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers, which lawmakers in both parties say is politically impossible. (The Tea Party is favoring him this election.)
Virginia Republican George Allen, who is trying to regain the Senate seat he lost in 2006, has taken a similar stand, even though he voted four times to raise the debt ceiling while in office. (Insiders say he has no chance as the Tea Party challenger in the Republican Primary will surely bring this up.)
Of course the big unknown is the Tea Party’s influence on the Presidential Race. Some political professionals think Tea Partiers
are already pushing candidates so far right that the eventual nominee might struggle to pick up independent voters in the general election against President Obama. Even former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appeared unenthusiastic when announcing his opposition to the debt ceiling compromise that Congress enacted with solid Republican support in both chambers. You could tell from his body language that he was ashamed of what happened and was reserved because he knows in the General Election any candidate will need the support of the more mainstream and sane voters. The extreme elements within the Republican Party are saying that “Mitt Romney did not show leadership.”
The tea party’s influence on the Republican Party will come with heavy baggage in independent leaning states such as Maine or
As a general rule, Independent voters skip most primaries but play big roles in general elections. I am guessing that they will want “Progress over Rigid Ideology.”
If Tea Party voters dominate Republican Primaries once again, they can nominate unorthodox candidates such as Delaware’s
A recent Pew Research/Washington Post poll suggests that Republicans did themselves much more damage in the “Debt Ceiling” struggle than has first appeared. About four in 10 Americans said they had a less favorable view of congressional Republicans because of the Tea Party’s ignorant antics. In summation, people now have a dimmer view of Tea Party affiliated lawmakers, because of the debt issue, and outnumber those who took a positive view.
In closing I will say, either way the Tea Party is leaving a big mark on the Republican Party and the limits of its influence are not yet clear. For me personally, I think the Republican Party will regret embracing the Tea Party Movement as it will destroy and split the Party in the long run. Extremism never lasts.