Thursday, November 14, 2013

Uncivil war: Tea Party radicalism and the deepening divide in the Republican Party

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You gotta love it when the Tea Party, a movement largely co-opted by an increasingly extremist Republican Party (as it was largely a creation of opportunistic right-wing Republican interests), comes out and calls Republicans traitors for not being extremist enough and for daring to work with Democrats to address the country's problems, subjecting them to primary challenges from the even further right and otherwise driving the wedge deeper into the party's disease-ridden carcass:

A tea party group has launched a campaign to support primary challenges against all 87 Republicans who voted for the deal in late October to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. 

The Tea Party Leadership Fund, a PAC affiliated with the group TheTeaParty.net, began a fundraising push — dubbed the "Primaries for Traitors Fund" — shortly after the shutdown deal passed in the House, and they are now ramping up efforts to find "credible candidates" in each of the districts, said the fund's treasurer, Dan Backer.

"From our perspective, we see this as a signature vote. You can't be a conservative and vote to raise the debt ceiling," Backer said. "I recognize there are some places where voters may actually think that was the right vote. And there may be places where you have an incumbent who wins with 90% of the vote every time and there's not a credible challenger. I recognize that, but we're certainly going to do our best."

Backer says the group has honed in on a few specific members to start: Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, New York Rep. Peter King, North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, and most importantly, Backer said, House Speaker John Boehner in Ohio. 

Of course, even Ronald Reagan, like every Republican president, supported debt ceiling raises, but, oh, no matter. These are crazed ideologues long divorced from reality.

And for Republicans like Boehner and so many others, this is what is called making your bed and having to lie in it. Or playing with fire. Or being hoisted with your own petard. Or getting bitten in the ass.

Not that I think it's a great thing that this is what American conservatism has come to -- it's awfully dangerous, given that this is one of the country's two main political parties -- but this is one of those times when you may want to grab some popcorn and settle in for what is sure to be an entertaining ride.

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