Tea Party will hurt GOP in the long run?
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|Wed, 09-29-2010 - 3:22am|
Just an opinion piece, posted for anybody who'd like to read/discuss it:
Tea Party will hurt Republicans in the long run
22 Sept 2010
With the recent nomination of Delaware's Christine O'Donnell for the Senate, the conventional wisdom from Democrats is that the Tea Party is now hampering Republicans.
I think some of the ultra "outsiders" who are winning because of Tea Party support — such as O'Donnell, Joe Miller in Alaska, and Sharron Angle in Nevada — could scare away moderate conservatives and independents in the long run. That would indeed be costly for the Republican Party.
Even if Tea Party candidates win a Senate seat, they have directly challenged and, in some cases, personally insulted the existing Republican leadership in both houses of Congress. These personal challenges and attacks are not sitting well with the powerful GOP establishment. It could well lead to a rift in the Republican Party in several ways.
First, Tea Party Republicans are often not on the same page with establishment Republicans in the Congress on many issues, including privatizing Social Security, doing away with health-care reform, deporting all illegal immigrants, cutting spending to the bone, as well as some social issues. That could spell trouble for cohesion.
Second, "social values" Christian conservatives are very concerned that the Tea Party, with its emphasis on economic issues, will displace powerful Republicans who emphasize banning gay marriage, abortion, restoration of religion and prayer in schools, opposition to gays in the military, and other "values" issues.
Third, the high visibility of Tea Party movement candidates could drive away moderate conservatives and independents from the GOP over the next two to four years, which would weaken a party that is already third in the U.S. in party identification among voters.
Fourth, the remaining moderate Republicans are making themselves heard in their opposition to the Tea Party. For example, Gen. Colin Powell has said the Tea Party is not addressing the hard issues. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dismissed the Tea Party and is working to help centrist Democrats and Republicans.
Even ousted Alaska incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — who both lost their GOP primaries — are running for Senate, Crist as an independent and Murkowski as a write-in candidate.
The best proof that some Tea Party candidates are not viewed favorably by the GOP is that Karl Rove, "the architect" as he was called during the Bush years, recently said, "It does conservatives little good to support candidates who at the end of the day — while they may be conservative in their public statements — do not evince the characteristics of rectitude, truthfulness, and sincerity of character that the voters are looking for."
"I mean," Rove added, "there were a lot of nutty things been saying that just simply don't add up."
Granted, Rove reversed himself a few days later and said, "I endorsed her the other night, I said I'm for the Republican in each and every case." I guess that means he supports even Republican Tea Party candidates that do not have the "rectitude, truthfulness, and sincerity of character that the voters are looking for."
With this kind of waffling and weaseling, I think the Tea Party threatens the "unit cohesion" of the Republican Party. And in the long run, that will be very bad for the GOP.
Steffen Schmidt is a professor of political science and public policy at Iowa State University. He writes a political blog for the Des Moines Register and does analysis in Spanish for "CNN en Español." He also serves as chief political and international correspondent for insideriowa.com.