Tea Party tactics will work against party itself

By Nicholas Riebel, Contributing Writer ||

The year of 2014 looks as if it’s going to be a bad for the Democrats: not as bad as 2010, but not much better. There are, of course, many months before the midterm elections, but difficulties over Obamacare (or if you prefer: the Affordable Care Act) seem like they will cost Democrats some seats in Washington D.C. and state houses around the country.

The real question is: what is the Tea Party going to do in response to this? It looks as if they have a two-pronged strategy: defeat “Establishment” Republicans (by that they usually mean those who want to limit or eliminate the Tea Party’s influence within the GOP) and defeat as many Democrats as possible. The Tea Party is evolving and adapting to changing circumstances, though. They particularly focus on vulnerable Democrats, and they increasingly tend to avoid targeting races that a Tea Party candidate may lose (which is why Maine U.S. Senator Susan Collins has escaped a major primary challenge). Yet this is not a viable strategy for the future for one interesting reason: their “ideology” and their tactics will undo whatever progress they make in controlling the Republicans and the capitol.

Allow me to explain: the Tea Party wants to purify the GOP into a right to far-right wing party which will eventually be able to impose a stringent and draconian (in my and most Americans’ opinion) social and economic agenda on the country. The GOP Establishment and “moderates” want to do whatever it takes politically to take power and impose a center to right-wing philosophy that is just popular enough for them to be politically successful (i.e. win elections outside of the South and other conservative rural states). [See this article for a mainstream media analysis.] These factions will damage the GOP and the nation in the short term in their intraparty civil war. When one side emerges victorious, it will emerge weakened and vulnerable, as demographics hasten the permanent rise of the Democratic Party. This will happen unless the Republicans move dramatically to the left on social, economic, and military issues.

Fortunately for America, the Tea Party is likely to lose this battle. They may have the people and the enthusiasm, but the more pragmatic GOP Establishment has more money and more institutional/structural support. It will simply outlast the Tea Party, whose members will retire due to self-imposed term limits and wasted, misguided White House ambitions. They will be replaced by more Establishment-friendly Republicans. In the meantime, the Democrats will ensure (in the short to medium term) that the GOP cannot win the presidency or Congress under normal conditions. The Republicans will eventually claw their way back to power by becoming neutral on abortion, in favor of gay marriage (or marriage equality, if you prefer), stronger gun control and safety, a friendlier attitude towards immigrants, and in favor of strong(er) regulations on Wall Street misbehavior, to name a few policy changes they will be forced to make. In this way they will win back some young people and minorities, but it should be a long time before they are able to become a truly national party again, equal to the Democrats.

Before this happens, though, the Tea Party will have its time to “shine,” and they may eventually succeed in causing the United States to default on its debt. Eventually, after one dramatic incident, or so many small ones, the GOP Establishment will eventually completely run out of patience, and destroy them politically. Just as Wall Street greed destroyed the economy, the Tea Party will destroy itself, and just maybe the Republican party, with its own ideological zeal and regressive tactics.

The Tea Party is so extreme that it has not only alienated America, it is alienating the GOP. While I don’t believe that there is no place for right-wing politics in America, the Tea Party is helping to prevent the GOP from becoming a reasonable alternative to the Democrats. Only by becoming like the Conservative party of Great Britain or Canada can the Republicans save themselves, and perhaps this country.

On the off-chance the Tea Party takes over the Republican party, there is a very good chance there will be a time in which it will control both chambers of Congress and the White House. Think about that, and hope I’m right. If I’m right, we can enjoy a more socially tolerant, fiscally/economically, fair, militarily secure, and well-behaved in international relations, and altogether liberal future.

Nicholas Riebel is a freshman contributing writer. Email him at nriebel@fandm.edu.

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