For the past five years, the GOP has been able to marshall block votes against most Democratic critical legislation in Congress. Given the continued exploitation of the filibuster rule in the Senate where a 60-40 vote is required to pass any legislation that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell cares to oppose. Because the GOP has 46 Senators and leader McConnell can rely on them to almost always vote in a block, McConnell can effectively block any legislation he so chooses. Thus, Senator McConnell has tripled the number of bills that require cloture voting. The net result is that Congress in general has become do nothing because that was what was decided back in 2009 at the time of President Obama’s inauguration to be the best way to defeat the President – a total scorched earth policy of obstructionism and sabotage of appointments, legislation, and executive orders. This has has now become the GOP operating norm to this day.
Obstructionism Creates Internal GOP Tensions
5 years later Obstructionism and trying to brand President Obama as Socialist Radical is still the Republican strategy. However, there are inherent tensions and contradictions in the Republican Base. The Republican Business Elites are sabotaging the GOP Base by bankrolling major GOP federal and state campaigns which have targeted both working class wages and benefits plus safety net services that an increasing percentage of the low and middle class GOP Base have come to rely upon. And that middle class base has its own tensions with the right to lifers who in turn are not always sympathetic towards the gun advocates. Or the immigration radicals who rebel against the need to get Hispanic votes orask why businesses get excused from prosecution for their employment of illegal immigrants. And this defiance of the Rule of Law is redoubled in the case of Wall Street financial executives who get huge public bailouts as Too Big To Fail “corporate welfare” recipients but are given criminal prosecution dispensations [ “Too Big To Jail” ]no matter what financial crime they commit. Foreclosure fraud, money laundering, fraudulent interest rate setting, inside information trading you name it and financial executives are excused from criminal prosecution to the chagrin of GOP Base members who have fallen victim to these excesses.
Thus the GOP Base is not always enamored of Republican Obstructionism. For example, rejection of Infrastructure programs cutting job opportunities rankles the GOP middle class base who themselves or their family could use the jobs help. Or falling way short of promises to clean up foreclosure misdeeds and the gross misconduct of banks in money laundering and foreclosure malpractices. And now that gay marriage and immigration reform are becoming accepted Republican policy for the sake of the youth and Hispanic votes, the divisions in the GOP Base have become more concentrated areas of attention.
Recent Cracks in the GOP Base
Four times within the last two weeks the base Conservative ideology has been seriously challenged from within:
1)The GOP Gun vote in the Senate has proven very unpopular back home, even in Red states. So some in the GOP are now looking for ways to “back off with honor”. The problem is that Women voters are mad. See how badly Republican female Senators have done since the vote – triple the downturn of their male counterparts. And the GOP has a big gap in women’s voting almost as bad as Latino and Asian votes.
2)Immigration Reform may well get defeated by the Tea Party dominated House. But then the petty Obstructionism which has been the GOP calling card for the last 5 years will be exposed again for viral sabotage – and some key GOP players like small and corporate businesses who are committed to immigration reform may call out their own GOP obstructionist.
3)A more formidable crack has come with discrediting of the Austerity paper by Harvard Economists Reinhart and Rogoff. Suddenly the scaffolding for Deficit cutting buckles. See it in the swift Air Controllers spending rescued from the Sequester cuts. In this light torpedoing of Infrastructure Spending and continued Treading Water on Jobs Initiatives becomes imminently less defensible given corporations reluctance to invest their huge multi $ trillions cash hoards in the US.
4)Perhaps under the radar has been the wide array of global examples that the US could do a lot better on gun reform, education, health care costs vs results, and other key global issues. With the emergence of fierce global competition in Economics – Brazil, China, India and other traditionally under-developed countries are leading World Economic growth at three times the US rate. Plus there is the stark reality of fierce military asymmetrical vulnerability produced by terrorists willing to commit suicide as evidenced at 9/11 and the Boston Marathon. As a result the US electorate is becoming aware that its privileged World Leadership status is coming under wide competitive pressure. Thus, a Do-Nothing-Congress is an ill-affordable luxury.
In sum, the GOP may have themselves Hung and Quartered in the electorates eyes as the vast blind and petty fury of their Congressional Obstruction and Sabotage wreaks havoc on the GOP Base as well as the broad Middle Class. But the GOP Base itself is cracking along class and wealth lines as the GOP Base Elites have prospered for over 30 years at the ever higher expense of the GOP Middle Class. What will bring about a Humpty Dumpty rift such that the GOP will not be able to put the pieces back together again? Several scenarios are possible in the immediate term; but most likely, the Republican Presidential nomination process for 2016 will complete the fissure that was started in 2012.