The real fight between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment is about to heat up.
In the recent election, Democrats suffered a “shellacking” as voter anger was finally unleashed after a year of Tea Party demonstrations sending an unmistakable message of outrage over unprecedented government spending. Tea Partiers forged an uneasy relationship with the Republican establishment to achieve their aligned goal of defeating the Progressive agenda, while Republicans sought to translate Tea Party anger into a winning coalition.
Now that the election is over, the Republican establishment is seeking to reassert itself by pushing the newly elected Tea Party freshmen to the back of the line with a thanks-but-we’ll-take-it-from-here attitude. We saw this attitude at work in the fight over earmarks where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to back down from his obstinate defense of this obscene practice.
The Republican establishment would like nothing better than to get back to business as usual, but the unusually large number of Tea Party freshmen is making that impossible. Jockeying for leadership positions and chairmanships began before the election dust settled with the seniority system on full display. Michele Bachmann was rebuffed in her bid to replace Mike Pence as the House Republican Conference Chair as Republicans rallied around the more senior Jeb Hensarling. While Mr. Hensarling is a reliable conservative, this would have been an excellent opportunity to reach out to the Tea Party and offer them a seat at the leadership table.
The latest effort to dilute Tea Party strength has been the call for Tea Partiers to embrace social issues to demonstrate their solidarity with social conservatives. Tea Partiers are laser-focused on fiscal issues in an effort to reduce government spending and pull America from the brink of the abyss. Social issues are important, but the electorate has demonstrated an intense interest in fiscal matters at this time.
Blue blood Republicans, demonstrating their own form of elitist snobbery, have always looked down on blue collar conservatives unable to stomach the Progressive agenda of Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi. Meanwhile, these Republican elites have managed to transform the Party of Reagan into an almost indistinguishable version of moderate Democrats only able to envision a slowing of the Progressive agenda.
Tea Partiers are not going to go gently into the night, and the Republican establishment needs to come to terms with this fact. We want spending restrained, ObamaCare repealed, Progressive initiatives rolled back, American strength and honor restored, and terrorism defined and defeated.