Will Tea Party lead GOP over the cliff?

Reginald J. Clyne | 10/31/2013, 9 a.m.
Tea Party adherents have extreme views that help them win Republican primaries when the most conservative and ideological Republicans vote. ...

Tea Party adherents have extreme views that help them win Republican primaries when the most conservative and ideological Republicans vote. However, in general elections when liberals, independents, moderates, Democrats, mainstream Republicans and Conservative Tea Partiers vote — well the Republican candidate loses if they take on the extreme views of Tea Partiers. A case in point is the overwhelming victory that President Obama achieved in the most recent national election.


Reginald J. Clyne

The extreme views of Tea Party followers, some with racial overtones, is not good for the Republican Party if it wants to win national elections. At a Tea Party rally against a pathway to citizenship, one of the founders of the Tea Party, Ken Crowe, advocated racial purity and stated, “You can’t breed Secretariat to a donkey and expect to win the Kentucky Derby.” While this racial purity view may ring strongly with southern white males in Republican primaries, it is not the type of sound byte that wins the Hispanic, Asian, Black, women and youth vote. In other words, racist sentiments are not selling as well as they did in the past. Likewise, an anti-immigration view, which is taken by some Hispanics as anti-Hispanic position, will not help the Republican Party win the hearts and minds of Hispanic voters — the fastest growing ethnic group in America.

The recent government shutdown showed a clear split in the Republican Party between mainstream Republicans and the conservative right wing fringe represented by the Tea Party. The Tea Partiers wanted to shut down the government as a protest against the Affordable Care Act. Mainstream Republicans did not want to take this action which was destructive to the country and believed by many of them to be bad for the party. Despite the concerns of his elders like Senator John McCain, Ted Cruz led a government shut down. The resulting negative polls showed that a majority of Americans did not agree with Cruz and the extremists. If this shutdown had occurred closer to the upcoming Congressional elections, some believe that the GOP would have lost its majority in the House of Representatives. As it stands now, it appears that the shutdown will definitely be an issue in the next election cycle.

McCain described Cruz as a “wacko bird.” Senator Graham (R-SC) was upset with Cruz’s attack on a fellow Republican, Chuck Hagel, during his confirmation hearing. Graham described Cruz attack as “out of bounds.” It is clear that many respected Republican leaders are not enamored with Cruz — one of the rising leaders of the Tea Party. Other Republican rising stars, like Senator Marco Rubio, lose points with the Tea Party because they support immigration reform and advocate a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The question is will the Republican Party be led by its right wing fringe and thereby distance itself from most Americans, who are more moderate? Or does the Republican Party and the Tea Party separate so mainstream Republicans who are not so extreme can win primaries and possibly national elections?