On September 25th, 2015, the actions of a small group of 30-40 “Republican” congressmen threw the institution of the House of Representatives into chaos by forcing Speaker John Boehner to resign. With the absence of a new Speaker of the House, Congress and furthermore, the entire American government, may soon be unable to perform basic governing functions. This development seems to prove, once again, the modern Republican party is dysfunctional and splitting apart. Governing has always been based around the delicate art of compromise and diplomacy. Certain members in the Republican Party are making it impossible to do this by not only hindering compromise within the Party, but within Congress as a whole. In a house of 435 members, 30-40 of them are able to thwart the actions of the entire government. These 30-40 members are not just a nameless group of established conservatives, they are a rag-tag group of radicals known as the Freedom Caucus. This recently prominent group, has joined other “Republican” groups such as the Tea Party and the Christian Coalition to attack the Party from the inside. While these groups are different, they are loosely associated and seem willing to stop at nothing to get the Republican leadership to endorse their radical anti-government, anti-tax and social-conservative beliefs. Their devotion to far right ideals has alienated them from the GOP establishment. The Republican party has become so fractured that it may be unable to survive. This situation is the result of a drastic difference in political philosophy and belief within the party. This divergence in political priorities has caused the GOP to become what can only be described as multiple political parties seeking to fit under a single political umbrella.
The radical group receiving the most media attention, recently, is a group of Congressmen calling themselves the Freedom Caucus. Freedom Caucus members have taken hard-line positions against their own leadership and have gone as far as to “define themselves less in opposition to Democrats than to ‘establishment Republicans — politicians they see as quick to betray their voters, and subservient to K Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents big business in Washington,’” (Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone). The Freedom Caucus is arguably the group causing the most dysfunction within the party. The Caucus is made up of close to 40 right extremists who make it their mission to pass legislation based on the radical rightist principals they were elected on. To do this, they think they need to do away with many mainstream Republican legislators.
What makes the Freedom Caucus unique is its refusal to compromise with anyone, whether Democrat or Republican. Virtually, every Caucus member represents a blood red district. Members genuinely believe that the extreme political philosophies that exist within their districts are beliefs held by the majority of conservative Americans, (Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone). This belief allows them to justify their complete unwillingness to use the diplomacy needed to make laws. The worse part of the the Caucus’ current strategy is that it works. The group will stop at nothing to get their way, and no one in the House is able to control them. An article in Politico Magazine best elaborates on this: “What is distinctive about the current crop of congressional rebels is their willingness to use any lever they can find to cause trouble—debt-ceiling fights, funding fights, leadership succession struggles. ‘The thing that (today’s) conservatives are very good at—because they don’t care about precedent or the party’s history—is trying out different things,’ says Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin, a history of the decline of moderate Republicans,” (Alan Greenblatt, Politico Magazine). Mainstream Republicans have shown great displeasure with the group’s proceedings: “Deputy Whip Tom Cole of Oklahoma likens the Freedom Caucus’ tactics to extortion: ‘I don’t think 40 people should be in the position of blackmailing 200 of their colleagues who hold a different view,’ Cole tells Rolling Stone. “You can’t govern this place that way,”(Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone).
Another one of the “sub-parties” within the GOP are the Christian religious conservatives. Christian conservative groups, such as the Christian Coalition and The Faith and Freedom Coalition, believe that one of the roles of the government is to uphold moral values instilled in religious Christian texts like the Bible. The focus of these Christian interest groups were laid out in a recent meeting of the Freedom Coalition: “Abortion, the role of faith in political life, attempts to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and religious liberty in the wake of the Supreme Court sanctioning gay marriage,”(David Jackson, USA Today). Notably, supporters of the Religious Conservatives are often older Republicans. They differ from younger, more progressive Republicans who have come to support more liberal positions like marriage equality, legalized marijuana, and abortion. Evangelical voters are being courted for the Republican Presidential nomination by candidates including: Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. Religious Conservatives stand against many more moderate Republicans on items, such as the funding of Planned Parenthood and gay marriage. Politicians associated with groups, like the Christian Coalition and The Faith and Freedom Coalition, are threatening a government shutdown in response to President Obama’s Budget Bill.
The last group that is part of the major split within the Republican Party is the Tea Party. The Tea Party is based on radical financial conservatism. The Primary goal of the Tea Party is to reduce government spending and cut taxes. Hence the name: The Tea Party (no taxation without representation). Members of the Tea Party are typically elderly and white and relatively wealthy. In 2013, in the midst of the implementation of the controversial Affordable Care Act, generally known as Obamacare, the Tea Party engineered the first Federal government shutdown in 13 years. Charles Boustany, a Republican member of the House Representative reacted to the Tea Party’s conduct by saying: “There are members with a different agenda,” Boustany said. “And I’m not sure they’re Republicans and I’m not sure they’re conservative,” (Chris Gentilviso, The Huffington Post). Like the Freedom Caucus and the Christian Conservatives, the Tea Party members seem willing to sacrifice a functioning government in an effort to accomplish their own limited goals.
In conclusion, the Republican party may not last as a single political party. The drastic differences in philosophy within the party are causing it to shatter. This is largely in part due to the interests of at least three “sub-parties” within the Republican party. Their radical anti-government, anti-tax and social-conservative beliefs create conflict between them and the leadership. These differences in political philosophy and morality have caused a fully functional governing party to deteriorate into 3 or more parts willing to cannibalize the main body to advance their own limited interests. These divergent interests and political priorities could possibly be settled within the Party but it seems more likely that the the result of the situation may be the formation of a third party and parties at some point in the near future.
Brooks, David. “The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Dickinson, Tom. “Meet the Right-Wing Rebels Who Overthrew John Boehner.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
Gentilviso, Chris. “GOP Rep ‘Not Sure’ If His Tea Party Colleagues Are Actually Republican.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Greenblatt, Alan. “The Freedom Caucus’ Unprecedented Insurgency.” Politico. Politico Magazine, 18 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
Jackson, David. “Republican Candidates Appeal to Religious Conservatives.” USA Today. Gannett, 18 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Oct. 2015.
- I am trying to write an Informative paper about dysfunction in the Republican party in order for me and the reader to understand what is happening within the party that controls the House and the Senate in hopes to elect the next President.
- I was influenced by the article Mr. Rodrigues directed the class to read and by my interest in the presence and support of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and other outside candidates in the Republican primary.
- I think I was successful in beginning to identify some of the internal issues causing splits in the Republican party. My research leads me to believe that their are many other issues and problems, but I think this is a fair assessment of some of the major problems within the GOP.
- I would like help with grammar, organization, and increasing my vocabulary in hopes of not repeating myself and the words and terms I use.