Are Tea Party Politicians Actually Conservative? Charles Boustany Isn’t So Sure
After two weeks of trying to get a deal done to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, several Republicans have come out to question the motives of the Tea Party.
Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany told the National Journal that he isn't sure the Tea Party contingent of the Republican Party are actually Republicans, nor does he think they are actual conservatives.
He told the magazine that they don't have the same agenda and they are working for outside interest groups who pay big money to defeat conservative Republicans.
The concern isn't over the direction of the party generally, but rather getting bills passed.
In his interview with National Journal, Boustany stated he was concerned that the actions of the Tea Party members, who he describe as only fighting for their strong conservative stances rather than governing, will hurt the Republican majority in the House in the next election cycle.
Wednesday night, the Senate-originated bill contained very little of what Republicans wanted in the negotiations: primarily some concessions on Obamacare and/or a long-term plan on what will happen with the nation's debt.
But the Democrats ended up getting their way on the deal.
After Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his Tea Party colleagues made their position on the debt ceiling negotiations heard, their hard line stance made negotiating with the Democrats and the White House extremely difficult for their Republican Party colleagues to try to hammer out a deal.
This hard line stance lasted right up until Wednesday night when the Tea Party faction said that they would not support the agreement in the Senate, but added they would not try to block it.
As a voter, what's the point of electing public officials to office if they can't achieve what we sent them to Washington to do for us? These Tea Party candidates may stand for what the public truly and deeply believes in, but if none of their policies get passed in Congress, some may ask what's the point in electing them?
Politics: For the Citizens
A politician's job in public office is to work for the benefit and the will of the population they represent. Politicians have historically earned a reputation for being sleazy and not trustworthy because of the way they handle business. However, it is through these tactics
that our political leaders are able to bring the "goods" back home to their constituents.
The Tea Party failed to bring the "goods" back to their constituents Wednesday night because the debt ceiling approached and no one caved in to their demands. This divided the Republican Party and stymied their efforts to get any real concessions from the Democrats.
Boustany made an interesting point in the National Journal piece about the role his Tea Party colleagues had on the discussions, "I think there are members who are in complete denial about their responsibility to govern and to try to use conservative principles to get the best possible legislative package we can get."
Whether it is in a business environment or in politics, Americans want to work with people who get things done. Unfortunately, the Republicans failed in that effort.
Who is the big R.I.N.O. in the room?
The term R.I.N.O. has been a part of Republican Party politics for decades and has gotten plenty of use recently.
Before the Boustany piece was published, other Republicans had problems with their Tea
Party colleagues during this debt ceiling negotiations.
The New York Times reported that New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte (who was elected as a Tea Party candidate in 2010) and several other Republicans were supposedly a 'lynch mob' against Ted Cruz for what they called not having any sort of a plan against the Democrats after his filibuster.
Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King, who has been seen as a moderate in recent years, has put up a non-stop barrage that an reader may see as early 2016 Republican presidential primary mud-flinging. Those efforts have earned King and many of his mainstream colleagues the "R.I.N.O." (Republican In Name Only) title despite the fact that there is no definition as to what a Republican should be.
But who is really a Republican and who isn't? And how did this affect the debt ceiling?
The political parties are just groups of people who work together to promote their own or a collection of political ideas. The identity of a party may fade or become disputed like we see today. This dispute is the primary reason why the Republicans could not get what they wanted out of the debt ceiling debate.
The Republicans and the Democrats have their parties organized in completely different ways because of who is in their constituency.
Republicans have historically been the smaller party, but with a more focused and principled platform with an extremely efficient operation to pass what they need to pass.
The Democratic Party is usually considered the big tent party, where it tends to have more people and a broader variety of philosophies, but it is clunkier and harder to organize for a vote.
What happened with this debt ceiling vote is a party that is normally efficient in getting its ducks in a row for a vote and present a strong united front like they traditionally have did not show up. The rift between the Tea Party faction and the rest of the Republican Party prevented that well-oiled machine from achieving what it needed to do.
And while the Republicans have been quiet about the in-fighting happening in their party, after Wednesday night's vote, it won't be all unicorns and rainbows for the conservatives as they figure out what needs to be done.
The act that was pulled off by the Tea Party in Congress is exactly what a third party candidate or a second-tier primary candidate does in a political campaign: throw out extremely popular or even populist ideas that will end up being partially absorbed by the winner. But the problem is that these are actual members of Congress who divided a vote like a third party candidate does in an election.
The Republicans need to determine what the face of their party will be. Is Charles Boustany and his colleagues right in saying that Tea Party candidates are not conservatives nor are they Republicans? Or are the mainstream and moderate Republicans not "conservative" enough for the card-carrying Republican? Or, will there be a rise of a third party in some states to compensate for the difference in these groups?
Let us know who you think was right during the debt ceiling debates, Tea Party Republicans, moderate Republicans, or the Democrats.