To understand the growing divide between rank-and-file Republicans and the party's leadership in DC, look no further than the temper tantrum published this week in The Hill. The author, John Feehery is a GOP power-broker who was a long-time top aid to former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert. Feehery is very upset that 12 members of the GOP caucus had the temerity to not support John Boehner's reelection as Speaker. He says it is "time for a purge."
The vote against Boehner was really a vote against the Republican Party. It was a protest against Republican policies and against the Republican establishment.
He is right about this to a degree. The votes against Boehner were a protest against many of the policies or deals pursued by Speaker Boehner. It was actually the entire point of the members who chose not to vote for Boehner. Feehery thinks this is politically a capital offense.
Boehner should invite the 12 who voted against him to leave the GOP. He should bar them from attending any Republican Conference meetings. He should strip them of all committee assignments. He should instruct the NRCC to view those seats to be held in the hands of non-Republicans, and find candidates to run for them. He should instruct Republican allies on the outside — business groups, corporate PACS, trade associations, the Chamber of Commerce — to cease to give these members any campaign contributions. The Speaker should instruct the Appropriations Committee to deny all spending requests made by any of these 12 members.These members shouldn’t be allowed to travel on any congressional delegation trips.
They aren’t Republicans. They shouldn’t be allowed to masquerade as Republicans.
This is extraordinary. First, all 12 of these members were just elected by Republican primary voters in their districts. Two months ago, they were elected by voters in their district to represent them in Congress. I think we should leave it to the voters in their districts to decide who is a "real" Republican.
By the way, delegation trips overseas, paid for by taxpayers, are allegedly "fact-finding" missions for Congressmen. Feehery's admission that they are really perks or rewards for loyalty ought to cause these to be stripped of public funding.
Feehery believes the mere presence of these "rebels" within the caucus threatens the whole GOP Majority.
And if John Boehner’s Republican Conference won’t support him as he kicks the rebels out of the party, then he should give up his Speakership and run for minority leader. Because if the Republican Conference won’t back John Boehner on this effort to make the party stronger, it won’t be a majority party for long.
Feehery certainly knows what it takes to lose a majority, having had a ring-side seat for the GOP implosion in 2006. In the six years the GOP had complete control of government, and Feehery had an opportunity to help shape policy, federal spending skyrocketed. A "unified" GOP piled up almost as much debt as all previous Congresses combined. It passed the largest entitlement expansion in a generation and dramatically increased the role of the federal government in almost every aspect of life. Oh, and a "unifed" GOP gave us the TSA.
Boehner would do well to ignore Feehery's rant. And Feehery would do well to rethink his desire for a purge. If the GOP continues on its present course, there will likely be a purge. But, not the one Feehery expects.
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