With the new year, a bevy of know-it-all consultants has declared that the loud and proud brand of conservatism represented by the Tea Party should shut up or doom the Republican Party to electoral defeat in 2014 and beyond. First, The Hill‘s Russell Berman wrote, “The smart money is on a cautious election-year strategy, favoring targeted, politically safe legislation over more contentious drives to reform the tax code, overhaul immigration policy and advance a long-awaited alternative to the new healthcare law.” The article’s title: “House Republicans must choose between ambition and caution in 2014.”
Meanwhile, The Hill‘s Erik Wasson and Peter Schroeder reported, “GOP strategists are urging restraint in the upcoming debt-ceiling fight.” The article quoted GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak, who stated, “We can’t risk changing the winds at this stage. You can shut down the Obama agenda completely if you have the Senate.” An anonymous GOP strategist was also quoted stating, “The only way you lose the House is if Dems intercept a Hail Mary pass on the debt ceiling.”
The caution-first strategy is the same strategy that suggested that the debt ceiling fight from 2013 and the Obamacare shutdown debate at the end of the year would hurt Republicans. Yet despite all the media’s attempts to spin those tactics as disastrous for the party, generic ballots show Republicans with a large lead going into the 2014 election cycle.
Furthermore, Democrats are counting on Republican shyness to allow them the freedom to push their own message. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said on Sunday that class warfare would the be Democratic strategy for the election: “the rich are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer; the middle class is being squeezed out of existence.” Keeping the public attention focused on the failures of Obamacare will require concerted action by Republicans to try to do something about the problem.
But according to the Los Angeles Times, Speaker of the House John Boehner is picking up on the advice of the consultants; his major challenge, the outlet reports, “will be to persuade tea party members on the right to stick to the GOP’s preferred themes and avoid the flashier brinkmanship that led the party into dangerous waters in the fall. If they avoid unpopular moves like another shutdown, the Republican Party could capitalize on the vacuum left by Obama’s high disapproval ratings, party strategists hope.”
Of course, those ratings would not have sunk without heavy focus on Obamacare – focus brought about by Republicans’ so-called “brinkmanship.” And the alternative to standing fast against Obamacare for Republican messaging is apparently Boehner’s preferred approach: caving on immigration reform.
If Republicans triumph in 2014, it will undoubtedly be as a result of Obamacare. In 2010, Republicans soared to historic victory because the much-maligned Tea Party spearheaded mass resistance to Obama’s takeover of the healthcare industry. Should the Republican Party forget that fact and instead turn to a combination of silence on Obamacare and volume on immigration reform, they could blow another historic opportunity.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.