Tea Party holds GOP hostage: far right convinced of liberal menace, impinges on productivity

By Nicholas Riebel,

contributing writer

Let us start by acknowledging something that many Americans refuse to: there is only one major party in America that is both willing and ready to fix our nation’s economy, reduce unemployment, and generally pass progressive policies and reforms to improve our nation socially and fiscally, resolving both our foreign and domestic issues.

It is not the Republican Party.

The Grand Old Party is, right now, more focused on saving itself rather than saving our nation. It is under attack from its own base, which the media calls the Tea Party. They are attacking moderate, center-right, and even very conservative present Republican officeholders for being too centrist, or liberal, or democratic. Stronger epithets have been used, but the point is that the ultra-conservative Republican base views the “establishment” of the party as too allied with President Obama, too beholden to Wall Street, and too willing to promote progressivism.

They are partially right. But, as usual, for the wrong reasons. The Republican leaders, as ostensible leaders of our nation (John Boehner is the Speaker of the House after all, one of the most powerful men or women in the nation and by extent the world) must cooperate at least a bit with the president. That’s how a government works. As the voters seem to have chosen a divided government (gerrymandering and Republican trickery aside) neither the Democrats nor Republicans, or liberals or conservatives, can implement policy or govern without the other. If there is no cooperation, no bipartisanship at all, things cannot get done.

This is why the Republican leaders are too “moderate” to the point of being Democrats, in the Tea Party’s eyes. They don’t really want to work with the Democrats, they want to run D.C. their way. But to do so, they have to score political points, especially with independents and minorities — this is why Boehner is so eager to work with President Obama on immigration reform. He recognizes that the GOP cannot afford to keep losing all the demographics that are growing in this country. It’s simple political math.

And you cannot win elections without Wall Street money. As much as I hate to admit it, under the current rigged system, you must spend millions of dollars to become a senator, or governor, or representative. And the cost to buy office, even at the local level, is rising. The Tea Party, though much less hostile towards Wall Street than the Democrats, are alarmed that Wall Street and other business interests are pressuring Republicans on issues such as LGBT rights and immigration reform (see: http://thinkprogress.org/sports/2014/02/25/3327381/arizona-super-bowl-committee- urges-veto-states-license-discriminate-law/# and http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ wall-street-journal-boehner-immigration-reform-talk-radio).

The thing is, even though wealthy interests are (short-sightedly) predominantly fiscally conservative, they tend to be somewhat socially liberal, or at least have been forced to do so because of business considerations. After all, some of their customers and employees may be gay, or immigrants.

The truth is, though, that the Republicans are afraid of their own members, and they should be (see: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/02/23/tea-party-establishment-races-2014/5653423/.) The Tea Party has convinced itself that everyone else is left-wing and that only increasingly conservative candidates can save America, despite any evidence to the contrary or the fact that they are more of a threat to America than any “socialist” policy the president would propose.

If you think I’m exaggerating or outright lying, keep this in mind: many Republicans (both Tea Party and non-Tea Party) have voted to destroy the global economy by defaulting on our debt. (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mitchell-bard/lesson-from-the-house-deb_b_4776005.html and http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-07/a-u-s-default- seen-as-catastrophe-dwarfing-lehman-s-fall.html.)

This is more of an argument against the Republican Party than for the Democratic Party, but at least the Democrats (frustratingly perhaps) do not have a Tea Party problem. Trust me, they are not scared of left-wing challengers; they can’t threaten them, affect policy, or set their agenda. If you look at most of the campaign websites for Democratic lawmakers, most of them reek of centrism, moderation, “independence,” and bipartisanship. Good luck finding many campaign sites like those for the GOP. Don’t we deserve a government that takes governing seriously?

  Nicholas Riebel is a first-year contributing writer. Email him at nriebel@fandm.edu.

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