The GOP establishment has continually written off the power/influence of the Tea Party faction, but much like Trump’s “imminent demise”, it turns out to be more wishful thinking than reality.
When Eric Cantor, former Republican House Majority leader and once a Tea Party favorite, got challenged in his own primary and lost, that was a clear wake up call that Tea Party fervor was still in high gear. Now Speaker of the House John Boehner, publicly embarrassed time and time again for failing to establish a majority GOP House consensus on critical votes such as continued government funding, has elected to basically throw in the towel and step down rather than face ongoing resistance, rebellion, and rejection from the more conservative Tea Party House members.
This is how the news was received by conservative voters when Marco Rubio alerted the audience at the Value Voters Summit:
What’s amazing is that on an absolute scale, both Boehner and Cantor would be considered highly conservative – but they have been branded as weak RINOs by the far right Tea Party wing.
Boehner in particular has been excoriated by the Tea Party for failing to stop Obama’s and the Democrats initiatives such as the ACA (“Obamacare”).
When Boehner and Cantor basked in the 2010 victory that awarded House majority back to the Republicans, it’s likely they never dreamed that they would both be kicked out by their own party within five years.
The true irony is the establishment GOP sowed the seeds to their own demise right after the 2008 elections when the public was angry over the prospect of a wrecked economy, continued government overspending and the prospect of bailing out Wall Street as well as Chrysler and GM. The GOP used the anger that put them into a minority and redirected it towards the government in general, and the Democrats in particular.
Their efforts to brand the entirety of big government as “evil” was a big success and many Dems got the boot in 2010. The problem is the new crop of politicians that were elected was based on this government hatred and were not willing to just fall in line to the status quo as Boehner and the GOP establishment had hoped. The GOP establishment didn’t think this through to realize that bringing in folks that hate the government will also target them as well as being part of the problem.
A good number of newly elected Republicans came in with a no compromise attitude and were put off by Boehner’s negotiating with the Dems instead of demanding their unconditional surrender. They were elected with the promise of taking immediate direct action against the Dems agenda such as Boehner’s and McConnell’s continuous chanting of the repeal and replacement of the ACA as a call to arms to energize and get out the Rep voters. Those newly elected were now primed for direct combat based on the promises made by their leaders.
This conflict has resulted in the US Debt Ceiling Crisis of 2011, where it appeared the GOP was willing to let the US Goverment go into default on its debt unless the Dems conceded to their budget cut demands. That brinkmanship led to S&P downgrading the country’s credit rating. Then there was the Government shutdown of 2013, when the GOP tried to force the Dems to defund Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government running.
To sum up, much to the chagrin of Boehner and the rest of the GOP establishment, they are reaping what they sowed. The obvious lesson here is don’t make promises to your constituents for immediate action that you know you can’t deliver on. With Obama’s relection in 2012, the ACA is essentially protected by his veto power until he leaves office in 2017.
And here lies the problem that is the big deal. Boehner’s “sin” was attempting to operate within the rules of law and votes as mandated by the Constitution. The founding fathers created the structure of our government with the assumption that all parties would make an attempt to work together and establish points of compromise for the greater good of the country. However, compromise is seen as a dirty word in the Tea Party lexicon.
With Boehner’s departure, you can be sure the Tea Party’s next target will be Senate Majority Leader McConnell. They are trying to put pressure on him to get rid of the 60 vote threshold to move bills forward to a vote, which is ironic since the Reps enjoyed blocking Dems using the 60 vote rule when they were in the minority. Neither Rep or Dem Senate leaders want to remove the 60 vote rule for fear of what would happen if they fall into the minority.
The Tea Party has shown they are willing to take the country hostage and threaten US debt defaults and government shutdowns to get their way rather than win by conventional means like obtaining the required voting majorities in Congress to pass a bill and override a presidential veto.
The fact is no party can or should ever submit to folding under such ransom tactics as it would set the precedent for it to be repeated and majority elections would mean nothing when minority factions can bully their way into power.
Boehner leaving means the GOP is now that much closer to having an apocalyptic showdown with the Dems that will result in a prolonged government shutdown or even a US debt default, either of which would be very bad news for the economy and those that directly depend on the government, such as SS recipients and veterans.
It seems inevitable that the Tea Party will strive to see how much power they truly have and wind up overplaying their hand at the expense of both their party and country.
We now enter the next phase of the Tea Party Revolution going into political and economic uncharted waters…