The Cynical Right

March 2, 2011

There are, I believe, two ways to read what the GOP is doing at the Congressional and state levels.  On the one hand, this may be all driven by ideologues — it’s easy to dismiss the budget battle in Washington and the craziness in Wisconsin as the overreaching of Tea Party Republicans emboldened by their electoral success.  That would explain why House Republicans would be willing to force through budget cuts that will, in all likelihood, stall the economic recovery and cost the economy nearly 700,000 jobs.  It would explain why Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s newly elected Tea Party Governor, would be willing to alienate teachers and union workers in his pursuit of a political agenda that goes far, far beyond “fiscal concerns.”

On the other hand, this could be a coordinated and, frankly, strategically sound attack on the Democratic Party and the Obama Presidency.  Weaken unions and teachers’ associations, two of the party’s core constituencies, to the point where they are unable to protect themselves and their jobs much less raise money for the party.  And at the same time, cripple the economy in the name of “budget savings,” so that next year, when unemployment has spiked again and the economy has slipped back into recession, they can point fingers at the President and, they hope, win back the White House.

Are Republicans that cynical?  Would they sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs and sabotage the American economy in order to win an election?  I really want to say no.  I really want to blame this on Tea Party ideology run amok.  But the truth is, I think they are just that cynical.

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2 Responses to “The Cynical Right”

  1. Tim Rohr said

    Two words: plausible deniability. The Right has it, now.

    The Tea Partiers are ill-equipped for governance. They are the vocal, extreme-right, primary-voting minority that finally achieved critical mass and got themselves elected into office. They rose to power on a wave of rhetoric (and emotion) that basically amounted to a statement to the rest of the political establishment of, “Compromise? What is that, French? Here’s some American for you: back up.”

    They lack nuance, and they lack experience. But what they lack in depth they make up for (at least presently) in clout. The GOP establishment has to listen to them… so you get things like Boehner refusing to even use the word “compromise” in a recent interview, opting instead for “common ground.”

    I’d argue the GOP establishment is in a no lose situation. They can sit back and ride the Tea Party wave… letting the TP champion the most egregious GOP goals with their typical brash jingoism. What do they have to lose? Either the TP reaches those goals (extremely bad for the country), and the GOP reaps the rewards, OR the TP gets exposed and the establishment can retake the reins of the GOP.

    …and, as you say, blame the president along the way to reap rewards in 2012.

    There *is* space between the GOP and the TP… enough room for some finger pointing should things get ugly enough. The Tea Party just isn’t sophisticated enough yet to realize that they’re being used. Not that they’d care, though.

  2. davidbcoe said

    I agree with everything you say here except the very last line. I think that when the Tea Partiers finally figure out the degree to which the GOP has exploited them, the backlash is going to be something to behold. Here’s hoping it happens before the next election.

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