Sunday, June 6, 2010

Civil War in America: GOP moderates vs. GOP evangelicals vs. the Tea Party

GOP Sen. Bob Bennett couldn't handle the Tea Party heat

If you look south of the border right now, you'll find the political world isn't doing so well; the Obama administration is flailing like a fish out of water, the GOP is fighting itself more than the Democrats, despite their very favourable position (or maybe because of it), and the only confident people right now are, weirdly enough, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC for short, which seems much more confident about November than anyone else does, which you could put down to either bravado, something in the water, or some secret plan.

But, by far, the most interesting story is the GOP (or Republicans if you prefer) infighting, which seems almost rabid at times. There seems to be about three forces at work within the GOP, battling with each other in primaries and nominations. Four if you consider Sarah Palin as a separate entity from the Tea Party. This includes GOP moderates (an endangered species), GOP evangelicals (or paleoconservatives, social conservatives, whatever you want), and the Tea Party (no quip required).

The fact that the GOP seems destined to make big gains in the November mid-term elections, possibly taking over the House of Representatives, makes this all the more confusing. Is this civil war happening in spite of the GOP's imminent success, or is it happening because of it?

Either option can be justified. The GOP desperately needed renewal and its getting it, if maybe in the wrong direction. It's easy to see that no matter what the GOP's position, this would have occurred. But it's also easy to see that with the prospect of success, people are going to start coming out of the woodwork. The clash of ideas, popularity, electability and personal appeal in a campaign for which you know your party's chances of winning are good can make anyone think they'll be a good candidate and they'll win. The lure of an easy victory and then a relatively easy job can be pretty powerful, even if you're a dolt.

In a lot of cases, it really depends on who is backing you in the election. And in an anti-incumbency year, it seems having the backing of the Tea Party is your best bet, given that three major candidates were felled by the sword of Tea Party-backed candidates, specifically Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Utah Senator Bob Bennett, and Kentucky Sec. of State Trey Grayson, who lost to Marco Rubio, Mike Lee & Tim Bridgewater (heading to a run-off in Utah on June 22nd), and Rand Paul, respectively.

I'm unsure about Grayson, but to be sure, both Bennett and Crist were what you could consider moderates, and made themselves targets. Both were supportive of the bailout, both worked with Democrats, and now both paid the price. Crist will be trying a run as an independent, however.

A more familiar name is John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate. He can also be considered another moderate, or "maverick" as he used to call himself. He is facing a very hefty challenge from Tea Party-backed candidate J.D. Hayworth in Arizona, so much so that he had to bring in Sarah Palin to help with his election. McCain is a Senator that has been in elected office longer than I've been alive, so this cannot be a good sign.

It's clear this civil war will be taking some pretty big scalps. This doesn't even cover the possible Democratic losses, which could take out such big names as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal), Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev), the Illinois Senate seat (Obama's old seat), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark, I don't much like her anyways) - and the list goes on and on. But the fact that Republicans themselves are feeling the heat from their fellow members means that we could be looking at an entirely new GOP by November, one that is even worse than Bush's GOP. Could anyone really handle that?

I'll be going over the various groups and organizations in the GOP in the next post which are fueling this civil war, as well as what it could mean for Canada.


  1. "GOP evangelicals (or paleoconservatives, social conservatives, whatever you want"

    Paleoconservatives are isolationist and frown on any support for Israel.
    Social Conservatives are very pro Israel, and very supportive on the war on terror.

  2. Good point, Rotterdam, though is it still fair to group them together you think? They do have quite a lot of similarities, especially socially.