July 23, 2024

GOP Civil War about to begin



Today’s Events in Historical Perspective

America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932

GOP Civil War about to begin

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – What has until now been skirmishing between mainstream conservative and far-right Republicans is about to break out into a full-fledged civil war on the heels of the party’s dramatic election victory.

In fact, Republican candidates, not the Republican Party, won on Tuesday because there was no platform, no agenda. There could not be because the diverse GOP candidates would have never agreed on the issues, and their internecine warfare would have sunk their Election Day hopes.

As it was, the Republican Establishment squeezed out Tea Party candidates in Mississippi, Colorado, and elsewhere, and where it could not, as with Joni Ernst in Iowa, they persuaded her to tamp down her more extreme views, such as support of a proposed Iowa Constitutional amendment: “The inalienable right to life of every person at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected.” She had also advocated the impeachment of President Obama and adhered to a United Nations conspiracy theory.

The Senate is already rife with Tea Party Republicans and their allies, including among others Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. And they will be joined by Senator-elect Ernst and others newcomers such as Arkansas Tea Party stalwart Tom Cotton.

All this was accomplished because mainstream and Tea Party Republicans declared a temporary truce, even as weaker Tea Partiers were being winnowed out. The only agenda was winning. The only consensus target was President Obama. And now that it’s over, agendas will emerge, and not just mainstream vs. Tea Party, but factions of those elements vs. factions of those elements, and that is before they even contend with the Democrats.

While it is clear that Republicans probably would not have enjoyed the success they did had they attempted to devise a unified agenda – a virtual impossibility under the circumstances – they are now going to reap the whirlwind for that omission. It is not just that the center will not hold, because they never began with a center, just two large and several small disparate parts, and civil war is going to be the result. And since most wars – political, social, or military – often have unexpected consequences, it is impossible to forecast a result, though it is possible to contemplate possibilities

Tea Party Republicans may find enough allies to take over leadership in both the Senate and House, a scenario that would see the replacement of prospective Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Sen. Cruz would prove to be key here.

Less likely is a scenario that entails Mainstream Republican dominance because Tea Party senators and representatives are infused with too much zealotry to accept docile roles in such a coalition.

Then, there is always the possibility of a cross-aisle coalition made up of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats. But the so-called Rockefeller Republicans and Blue-Dog Democrats make up very small minorities. Such a coalition would only be possible if it somehow attracted less-centrist members.

However, none of these scenarios is likely to play out until the Republican Civil War has commenced and casualties have been taken because casualties have a sobering influence on the peace process.

Twitter @WMerryGoRound

© 2014 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.




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