And in this corner … .
A fight is brewing, and the control of the Republican Party is at stake. That fight would headline any pay-per-view event but with a wide-open 2016 presidential election on the horizon, the stakes are a lot higher.
The tea party is credited for the 2010 mid-term elections that gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives.
Actually, the tea party was just a name given to a very common occurrence. Backlash against the president’s party in mid-term elections is hardly a new phenomenon. Usually the mid-term losses are a result of the gains from the previous elections for the winning president’s party. When the president wins, many Congressional elections are decided on the same issues and those members ride his coattails into office.
Barring outside forces such as war or economic boom or bust, mid-term elections “correct” these results.
Lyndon Johnson lost 47 members of the House to Republicans. Richard Nixon lost 12 seats to Democrats. Gerald Ford lost 48 more.
Even conservative folk hero Ronald Reagan lost seats in the House in both of his mid-term elections. Bill Clinton saw 52 House races go to Republicans in his first mid-term elections.
So seeing America’s first black president lose 63 House seats to the Republicans in 2010 was no big surprise.
The tea party had a name. It was a movement supported by billionaires to generate “grassroots” support.
But the phenomenon wasn’t new unless you just started paying attention to politics five years ago – in that case, it was only new to you. Mid-term elections are merely the political pendulum reacting to natural forces. They are a reaction to the previous election. A sitting representative has to vote and all they have to run on is their accomplishments. An opponent has a much better chance to attack two or three controversial votes cast over the course of time.
But Sarah Palin isn’t willing to believe that anything normal happened in 2010. In her estimation, those mid-term elections were due to the political force of the tea party and nothing else.
“GOP Beltway Boys, yeah, GOP Beltway Boys, you know that 2010 victory that swept you into power? You didn’t build that, the tea party did,“ Palin said, drawing applause from those in attendance at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “So dance with the one that brought ya. You want another sweep, grab a broom and join us at the party.”
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) existed long before the tea party movement that began soon after the election of Barack Obama in 2008.
In fact, CPAC is credited with helping Reagan find his voice almost 40 years ago.
But in the past five years, CPAC has become a pep rally for the tea party.
Some Republicans are notable for attending and others are notable in their absence. Skipping CPAC is seen as a deterrent to winning the 2016 presidential primary. But in some circles, appearing could hurt your chances in winning that election if you become the nominee.
I have said multiple times that if losing two elections to a black man with the middle name of Hussein in today’s America doesn’t tell you your message is missing the mark, nothing will.
Apparently nothing will convince Palin.
“Our message resonates,” she said. “We believe in the promise of America, and that message does resonate and it has since the band of brothers dumped tea in the Boston harbor.”
Not only is that message failing to resonate in elections against Obama, the rest of the Republicans are beginning to fight back against the hyper-conservative wing of the party.
Those dubbed “moderate” or “establishment” Republicans – commonly referred to by tea party members as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) – are pushing back because they believe the party has been flung too far to the right by groups like Americans for Prosperity and the new Senate Conservatives Fund.
One of those senators who doesn’t care for the SCF is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell said in a published interview this weekend that he doesn’t see any tea party-backed candidate even making it to the general election ballot.
“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell said. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”
The most interesting thing about that quote – other than his Ivan Drago style trash talk – is that McConnell has started referring to Republicans as “we” and “them.”
That’s doesn’t sound too good for a party trying to come together to end a losing streak.
The party’s issues are deep and numerous. I don’t believe the 2014 elections will settle anything unless it leads to the complete control of the party by the far-right faction.
They are used to being the vocal minority in the Republican Party. They have no problem being a faction.
Now they have money so they can afford lots of t-shirts with clever sayings.
It will be interesting to see if McConnell is correct or if he is just speaking hopefully about his own race in which a challenger from the right is coming after him.
But nothing helps the Democrats chances more than competing with a party divided against itself. That has been the key to two recent elections and we all know there would never have been a Bill Clinton in the White House if Ross Perot hadn’t stolen conservative votes from George H.W. Bush.
These mid-term elections have the best-defined inner-party conflict in recent memory.
If the Republicans want a chance at the White House in 2016, they better hope they can pick a winner.
Kent Bush: GOP's issues deep and numerous
And in this corner … .