Monday, December 19, 2011

Tea Party "Extremists"

Tea Party “Extremists”
P. Schultz
December 19, 2011

            Once again, the Republican leadership has acted in a way that seems to make no sense.  At least, their actions make little sense if one assumes that the goal of all political parties all the time is to win elections. The action in question was that the Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to accept a compromise that had been worked out between the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate to preserve the payroll tax cut back so as not to increase taxes when doing so might endanger “the recovery.” And the House Republicans did this even though the Democrats had compromised, or allegedly had compromised, on certain issues such as that of building a pipeline for oil that would transverse the nation. So it is fair to ask: what is up?

            I feel pretty sure there is more to it than what appears below but it is, nonetheless, worthwhile to put this argument forward. Namely, that the leadership in the House [and to some extent in the Senate] is content to look like obstructionists for a cause of doubtful worth if this result helps to paint the insurgents in the Republican Party as extremists or uninterested in governing. And this quotation from a Democratic congressman makes the point rather sharply:

“We are witnessing a pattern of Speaker Boehner walking away from bipartisan compromises to kowtow to his extreme Tea Party wing of his caucus,” Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, said in a statement. “This is the latest example of the Tea Party Republicans sacrificing the good of the country on the altar of extreme ideology.”

            Now, it is fair to ask why Speaker Boehner would feel the need to “kowtow” on “the altar of extreme ideology?” After all, Boehner is in charge, is he not? His position in the Congress is safe, is it not? Well, perhaps not so much as people think. The Tea Partiers are, if not extremists, then at least insurgents. As such they pose a threat to current leadership in the House, whereas the Democrats do not. Even if the Republicans were to lose control of the House, which seems unlikely, this would not mean that the current leadership would lose control of the party. In fact, were the Republicans to increase their numbers in the House, that might endanger the current leadership insofar as there might be more Tea Partiers in the House who could then displace Boehner and other Republicans who are not Tea Partiers.

            Moreover, the fact that a Democrat is being quoted here is interesting in that it points to the “collusion” that exists, willy nilly, between the Democrats and the Republican leadership. Both parties have an abiding interest in preserving the status quo, that is, preserving the prevailing leadership of each party. And, without even needing to meet or communicate, the two parties work together to get this done. As a result the more things change, the more they remain the same. C’est la vive.

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