A couple weeks ago while looking over the comments on Politico and Yahoo News–both popular with the Tea Party–I saw the war cry “Primary the French Republicans!” I could figure out that the noun “primary” had been verbed into a shorthand for running a Tea Party candidate against a traditional Republican in the primary election–a tactic that has worked already in the past four years. But I couldn’t figure out what the hell a French Republican was, not in the context of American conservative politics.I googled around and found the source. I’ve linked it below. You can see what it is that has split and terrified the mainstream Republican conservatiuves….the Tea Party have turned jacobin, radical, declaring war on anyone in their own party ranks who they consider not extreme enough. They’ve taken Barry Goldwater’s slogan from his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican convention–“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”– and turned it into an argument against anybody who quails at the notion of defaulting on the federal budget and shutting down the federal government. Obamacare is the road to socialist (even nazi) ruin, they say. Obamacare means the beginning of the end of American liberty. Hence the Goldwater quote–which probably doomed the Goldwater campaign from the start, just those two sentences–applies, if you think like a Tea Party member.
And that is the dynamic which is driving this shutdown. Defunding Obamacare–which is literally impossible, as nearly all the funds have already been allocated and are not included in the budget being debated by congress–is merely an excuse for intra-party ideological warfare. And though the Tea Party is down to between a ten and twenty per cent approval rating, its ferocity and devoted following (and its de facto sponsorship by FoxNews and right wing talk radio) is driving the Republican party. A mainstream Republican challenged by a Tea Party candidate in a primary (especially in the midterms, when only the hardcore politicos can be counted on to vote in these lower turn out elections) will have to veer far to the right to win that primary…which will scare off voters in the general election and make him vulnerable to a moderate democrat (who will pick up the majority of independent voters.) Or if the state is naturally conservative with a lot of Tea Party republicans then the mainstream Republican might well be defeated outright in the primary election and disappear into oblivion. that is what Mitch McConnell thinks about every day.
And in the house (tho’ not so much the Senate) the Tea Party representatives are safely ensconced in seats where not only will they not face a more moderate Republican but cannot expect to be beaten by a Democrat ever. Various factors including some very effective gerrymandering have left the Tea Party in some perfectly safe seats. No matter what they do it is unlikely that many of them will be beat in 2014. In fact, they might even gain. The Tea Party will never be as strong again as they are right now. And there is just about nothing the mainstream House leadership can do to bring them into line.
And that is basically what is happening now.
The Breitbart.com article I mentioned above (and linked below) about “French Republicans”, written by a leading Tea Party thinker, is a pretty fascinating read.. It’s a call for revolution and a declaration of war against all those who do not share Tea Party beliefs. It’s kind of astonishing, actually. These people are crazy. But get this–even if the GOP were to lose seats in the 2014 election because of this…..the losers would be mainstream Republicans. The Tea Party wins even in a Republican party catastrophe. The shut down looks like a no lose proposition for them. The crazier the better.
This is how the Whig Party ended, by the way. They were a huge party, electing several presidents. By 1860 they had ceased to exist, torn to pieces by the issue of slavery. Completely gone. In fact, you probably never even heard of them. But some of the more bookish Republicans have, and they wonder.
Conservative talk radio host and scholar Mark Levin said it should be a top priority to defeat establishment Republicans he referred to as “French Republicans” in order for principles of limited government to be restored.