Election 2014

Republicans, Poised to Take Over Congress, Are in Disarray

A new GOP majority will run the risk of exposing all the intraparty differences that have been quietly festering.


John Boehner/Instagram

If the Republican Party takes full control of Congress in November, it may have a harder time than a lot of people expect in figuring out what it's actually for.

The USA Today-Pew poll showing "the strongest tilt to Republican candidates at this point in a midterm year in at least two decades, including before partisan 'waves' in 1994 and 2010 that swept the GOP into power" is raising hopes in some quarters that the Republicans will add a Senate majority to the House of Representatives that they already control. That would put the party in a position to pass some laws, or at least to deliver some legislation to President Obama to veto.

Big tents are good for winning elections. But they can translate into trouble when it comes to governing, which requires making choices. A president can help sort these things out, but for Republicans, at least until after 2016, the White House is likely to function mainly as a guide to what to oppose than as the answer to the question of what to be for.

Back in the mid-1990s Congressional Republicans led by Newt Gingrich tried a "Contract With America" that set some pre-election priorities. But with no such contract on the table, at least at the moment, a new Republican majority will run the risk of exposing all the intraparty differences that have been quietly festering.

So it's not too soon to start thinking about some of the tensions within the Republican coalition that will pose some practical problems. Some of these are factional rifts—Tea Party versus establishment, or libertarians versus Christian conservatives, or big business versus small business. But they play out in battles over specific issues, some of which Congress will have to tackle.

Among the issues where Republicans are split:

Immigration: Free-market, business-oriented types want to open up the gates to increase the labor supply and cut red tape. Law-and-order conservatives want to get tough on illegals and oppose "amnesty."

NSA surveillance: Tough-on-terrorism Republicans remember that many of these programs were begun under George W. Bush. Libertarian types think that this is Orwellian big government run amok.

Defense spending: Republicans remember the Reagan military buildup, and there are plenty of military installations and defense contractors in GOP districts. But getting to a balanced budget is harder without curbing growth in military spending.

Common Core: Republicans talk about local control of education. They bristle at national standards, but they are also tempted to impose them, as in George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education law. Plenty of Republican governors have adopted the Common Core in their states, and Jeb Bush supports it. There's no consensus.

Infrastructure spending: The Chamber of Commerce supported the Obama stimulus bill in part because it included spending on things like highways, bridges, and railroads, which certain big businesses love. Governors often like this kind of spending, too. But, like defense spending, it makes it harder to balance the budget, which is something Republicans also claim to be in favor of.

Tax reform: There's wide agreement that the current tax system is too complex, but there's disagreement over what should replace it. A flat tax? A consumption tax or "fair tax?" Some version of the current system but with lower rates and fewer deductions?

Means testing: Some Republicans favor reducing government benefits, like Social Security or unemployment, for well-off recipients, as a way of getting the federal budget under control. Others see it as joining Democrats in a misguided effort to soak the rich or punish hard work, savings, or success.

That's not even getting into the question of Constitutional amendments, where many Republicans claim to favor some version of a balanced budget amendment but wordings vary. Or the social issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

Sometimes these sorts of disagreements can be healthy and creative, translating into "team of rivals" style Cabinet-level debates. At other times, the rifts can degenerate into counterproductive backstabbing. Without a president, the Republicans will lack a clear decider on these issues. Who will call the shots? Paul Ryan? Rand Paul? Jeb Bush? John Boehner? John McCain? Mitch McConnell? Eric Cantor? Rush Limbaugh?

The "Republicans in disarray" story is one that the liberal press loves to write the morning after elections that Democrats win. The strange thing about 2014 is that the headline applies on the eve of a midterm election that is being touted as a historic Republican victory.

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  1. We all know what the Stupid Party will do with their newly found majority. Stupid is what they will do.

    Their first mission of stupid will be to do everything in their power to make sure that a Dem is elected Potus in 2016

    The best we can hope for is that they make the King’s life a living hell for the next couple of years.

    1. I predict they will use the Reid Trick to get rid of the filibuster for certain types of legislation.

      1. it was not a trick it is part of the senate rules.

  2. “”””That would put the party in a position to pass some laws, or at least to deliver some legislation to President Obama to veto”””

    Just what we need, more laws. Especially laws that get past Obama’s veto. /s

    1. veto is in the CONSTITUTION laws do NOT over ride it.there is a way to you need 2/3 in both HOUSES.

    2. Thank god it takes 2/3 majority to over ride.

  3. Cut some taxes, raise some spending, rattle some sabers, and generally make the soon-to-be-assuming-room-temperature Stosh and Stella crowed think the 1950’s haven’t REALLY gone by the wayside. Pretty much what they have been doing, as the (socially) conservative branch of the corpora-fascistic party ensconced in Washington D.C. Specifically, do their best to try and not piss off AARP and hispanics (making sure gravy trains keep on a rolling) in some half assed attempt to position the party for a run for the POTUS and find a way to put up a mealy-mouthed candidate that won’t have a real chance in any event, and who will not have support of the AARP or hispanics regardless of what the GOP does in the short term.

    Does it really matter? Both sides of the corpora-fascists are filled with sociopathic morons. The one or two politicians I’ve heard speak -that didn’t make me want to kick my TV in – have either retired or moved on to think tanks. When former comptroller general Walker gave up and exited the stage, I knew the end-game was under way. That was in 2008 and we all saw what soon happened. The sociopaths successfully staved off collapse for a few years by going totally berserk with borrowing, and the end is near. What could Rand Paul do even if the GOP doesn’t screw up whatever chances they have as the pendulum of idiot swing voters comes back their way (that is, not completely screw up their day in the sun)? We are so far beyond screwed.

    1. That, of course, is crowd not crowed. I wondered where that e I had to insert elsewhere went…

  4. How about replacing
    “Law-and-order conservatives want to get tough on “illegals” and oppose ‘amnesty'”


    “People who notice the interaction of the welfare system and mandated special treatment for minorities want to be damned careful of de facto open borders”.

    1. It’s so cute how you don’t realize that the difference between those two approaches is a small fraction of the difference between either one and grown-up-talk about immigration and race.

      1. It is so cute that you imply that the blather coming from Obama and progressives about immigration is “grown up”.

      2. A proggie brings up race.

        Ladies and gentlemen, my shocked face.

  5. If the Repubs continue on their (politically) suicidal push for immigration amnesty, I don’t think they are going to have to worry about what to do with their new-found majority.

    1. The political suicide is almost universally recognized as opposing immigration reform–the GOP’s attitude being perceived as racist and hostile and the barrier between them and Latino voters. It’s all about short-term and long-term. They can count on winning midterms until their old, white base has died off enough, then they can count on the suicide if they haven’t managed to bring anyone else in.

      1. Umm, this thread is dead, Tony. Much like your brain.

        1. which is why you replied? the new found majority is a myth will not happen.ga will be blue by 2016 and texas as well. what than?a republican president what a joke,not going to happen.

          let me ask you this,in 2009 we were in a recession,unemployment high.whyat was the priority of the right?to make obama a 1 term president.NOT to create jobs,not to put america back to work.it was by 2012 to put a republican in the white house. the best way is for the economy to suffer,less jobs,less people working. THAT is who you support.people who for SOLELY political purposes loved when people went unemployed.

          1. I believe you have the wrong forums. Most republicans are quite disappointing to most commenters on this site.

      2. It kind of depends on what you mean by “reform”.

  6. See those two bozos up there? Two good reasons to avoid voting R.

    1. I did not know that Chris Farley was a Republican. I already knew George Hamilton was one.

      1. I did not know that Chris Farley was a Republican

        He was, but he’s been voting democrat ever since he’s been dead.

    2. True that. It’s fun to rag on dems, and then you see the alternative in election outcomes… (sigh).

  7. Heaven forbid people inside a party have a diversity of opinions! We can’t have that!

    But, yeah, let’s get these differences out in the open, so that we can talk about them and change some minds. Right now, the old guard of the Republican party seems to think it can simply ignore libertarians or shout them down.

  8. Republicans may take the Senate, but the establishment neo-cons will not provide constitutional control, much to the chagrin of the voting public who think the party is actually Republican. Just look at the fake Republicans (Boehner, Cantor, McConnell etc. who have been selling the country down the river. If the establishment has control the Bush era of big government will continue unabated (and unconstitutionally). The voting public is naive beyond belief. The so-called two party system has destroyed liberty and justice for all.

  9. The Republicans are a Democratic twisty knot. Two fuckin’ ropes leading to hither and yon… Two. 2. Both similar… Havta be twisted so dumb fucks get confused…

    While the precious last experiment for practical existence on planet earth gets screwed on a giant dick of I don’t Give a Fuck. This Giant Dick is rather fugly and huge. It’s built on bullet casings and waterboards with past presidential whims and wishes and oh my gods and shit I didnt knows. While the past retard paints shit and the present retard wishes he was painting shit the constitutional ass is consistently being fucked raw with governmental ass toys…

    Washington and Madison? Did you ever plan on the constitution having a politician goatse? Well, the police and the fucking whore gap fucking dicks of your planned experiment in freedom have decided to rape your liberty?

    1. Go on.

  10. The tsunami has begun! The Republican Party has RINO-Virus. The Tea Party Movement pledges to eradicate this fatal, debilitating illness next election. “When we the Tea Party Movement send the RINO’s home we will send more cowardly Liberal Democrats Packing. We Promise!”

  11. I, like many Americans, valued when a two party system worked things out with respect for each other, points were made and had some sense of urgency about solving problems that their very being is supposed to have as their priority.

    It’s foolish to get caught up calling one party bozo’s and miss the game being played. These parties won’t debate the real issues. They can’t do what the average business person is tasked to do every day:

    List needs and objective opinions. Prioritize, understand requirements and start making decisions.

    The Supreme Court has bailed on us. They allow politicians to accept unlimited special interest funding. This is insane.

    Most wrongs with this country can be fixed now.The path to fix it – a mix of business, topical experts and – most importantly – trained possibility/critical thinkers like those of us in marketing and innovation management have – we can get this country in balance, solve the obvious… objectively and do what needs to be done.

    We should admit no one party has it right, both have screwed up. Whoever comes to the planning table, has to come to listen, define, prioritize and get the right things done.
    I am excited about all we can be – global,connected, accountable, inspired, enabled, understood. We just can’t hold on to obsolete notions just because we are wealthy, in power. The innovation bus needs to roll. Our values need to practice reason, openness, new thinking as that is what humanity is at our best.

    1. They allow politicians to accept unlimited special interest funding.

      The SCOTUS is not a legislative body, though it might hard to tell at times. It’s not their place to allow or disallow, but to interpret the Constitution.

  12. It’s sad that an otherwise fair article, speciously omits fact so called ‘Free-market, business-oriented types’ aren’t the only ones in favor of Illegal Alien Amnesty. Amnesty is also the premier issue for leftist Democrats, who know it would effectively change the fabric of the nation and destroy the Republican Party. Why do Libertarians like the author Ira Stoll, champion all of the Libertarian ideas of Milton Friedman, except for his crystal clear words on illegal Immigration? Allow me to paraphrase it for Ira: In a perfect world – open immigration would be a positive; workers would work and then return to their countries of origin after the work was complete. However, open borders cannot coexist with a welfare state ? especially in a country like ours, where the chief actuaries of each government entitlement have confirmed that our system in unsustainable. Given the United States has the most prolific welfare state in the history of the world: giving away free, taxpayer funded stuff to everyone from anywhere? the only people who believe in amnesty for 20 million illiterate illegal aliens and their 30 million chain immigration family members is good for America are libertarian ideologues or crony capitalists with govt connections.

  13. Although likely, the teatards taking over the senate would be a disaster for the nation.

    Figuratively speaking, death and destruction.

  14. It would almost be worth it to see them destroy one another but they are not going to take over the Congress despite media hype. It will be interesting to see how the media contorts its message to explain how they could have gotten it so wrong. To be sure it will be someone else’s fault. Bet on it.

  15. The author, Ira Stoll, is an open neoconservative. Who is supposed to be doing quality control to prevent statist trash from infiltrating this magazine? Cathy Young and Peter Suderman are also neoconservatives. They should all be terminated from their positions with this magazine, just like neoconservatives mercilessly do to libertarians, Objectivists, and other Tea Party types in all the outlets they control, which is most of them.

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