Tea Partiers hurting Republican Party
The recent defeat of House majority leader Eric Cantor by tea party challenger Dave Brat in a Virginia primary is only the latest example of a disturbing trend in American politics.
Democrats have criticized tea partiers for being unwilling to compromise, (remember last year’s government shut down?) but the tea party movement is hurting Republicans in Washington, as well.
Many voters have identified with the far-right views of the tea party, making these voters an important demographic for Republicans to reach in presidential primary elections.
Unfortunately, this forces candidates to become ultraconservative. A comparison of the policies of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 2012 Republican presidential nominee Romney shows the effects of a primary election on Republican candidates.
Governor Romney used federal stimulus money to effectively help Massachusetts’ economy. Nominee Romney, however, criticized Barack Obama’s stimulus policies, calling for decreases in spending.
In 2003, Governor Romney refused to support tax cuts proposed by the Bush administration and also stated that he was open to tax increases on gasoline to help transportation projects. Nominee Romney eventually stated that he had supported Bush’s tax cuts overall and then signed an anti-tax pledge, promising never to introduce or raise taxes. In 2004, Governor Romney signed a statewide ban on military-style assault rifles.
In 2006, just before announcing his candidacy for president, Romney joined the NRA. In a series of 2012 interviews following the Aurora Massacre, nominee Romney maintained that he opposed any new gun control measures. Romney’s shift to the right eventually won him the Republican nomination but also lost him the general election.
By radicalizing the Republican Party, the tea party movement is keeping Republicans out of the White House. To win the primary, candidates must become so conservative that they lose the support of centrist voters. Many have credited the tea party with revitalizing the Republican Party.
To truly revitalize the party, however, Republican voters must support moderate candidates with responsible, small government economic platforms and progressive social platforms. If not, the Republican Party will continue to drift farther right and farther away from voters in this age of hyper-partisanship.
I was deeply saddened to see the passing of Eli Wallach. His amazing performance as Tuco in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” has stuck with me a lifetime, as I was only a teenager when that movie first came out.
I know we all have more important things to worry about than a long-ago incredible movie performance in this day and age. But I believe we all have a bit of the Tuco in us.
RIP, Mr. Wallach.