A Political Cautionary Tale
Perhaps this should be titled “Be careful what you wish for” instead.
The Republicans tied themselves to the Tea Party agenda three years ago, agreeing, at least in principal, with the ideals that those people supported: smaller government, especially smaller federal government, less intrusion in state and local affairs, and less intrusion in personal lives, as a sample of those ideals. At a time when the focus of the president and Democrats seemed to be to expand government’s role in many things–healthcare, creating new jobs through government programs, etc.–it made perfect sense: set yourself apart from the status quo and feed on some of the anger of the voters.
Ah, but it’s backfired, and in a big way, too.
To say that Bush was a moderate is an understatement, to the point that his party only rallied behind him because he held power. But the conservative base was not happy with his more left-leaning views. And this is why a potential Romney campaign is so troubling to them: if he is to become the nominee, does the party, which was together for a year but has torn themselves apart in the two years since, have what it takes to reunite behind yet another moderate conservative?
You’ll recall that Obama–who, by the way, sits very firmly to the right of where Clinton did–managed to defeat John McCain, who is more conservative than Bush was, and seems more conservative than Romney. But once Obama was labeled as an ultra liberal by the right, thanks to his push for universal healthcare, his approval numbers plummeted.
There’s a parallel here, trust me: Regardless of what you think the country really wants or really needs, voters are terrified of anyone who pushes an agenda that gets too far out of that moderate comfort zone. This is why Obama’s hard left-leaning stands have been rethought and for the last two years, a standing spirit of compromise has come from the White House.
But the Tea Party portion of the Republican party continues to make waves. Take this story which says Tea Party members in congress are causing problems for their own Republican party to pass its version of a transportation bill. The problem is that they don’t want the federal government so involved in funding transportation projects across the country, and want that planning and funding to go to the state and local levels. In addition, they’re concerned that funding of transportation projects isn’t coming purely from gas taxes and other transportation fees.
The problem with the Tea Partiers, like the Obama administration, is that they didn’t really fully understand how the system worked before they took power. It’s one thing to have great ideals and plans and goals, but when you see just how complicated it is to turn a government 90 degrees, you should quickly learn that you need to push your agenda in small bits.
But the Tea Partiers and far right conservatives seem very unwilling to give up their positions for the sake of compromise. And I think even the Republicans are seeing that that kind of stand just loses you support.
We’ll see how people rally around the nominee after August.
See you tomorrow.