In an otherwise useful article about the coalition building going on among establishment Republicans and more conservative activist groups outside Congress, Politico nonetheless insisted on using the term “wingers” to identify the movement conservatives who are seeking to have more influence over Washington.
The Washington-based political newser properly notes that Republican leadership has yet to gain the upper hand in a relationship with tea party-styled conservative activists even after nine months of attempting to build a coalition. But the way Politico frames the debate is interesting.
“Coming off a difficult 112th Congress,” Politico’s Anna Palmer writes, “Republican leaders knew that they needed to build bridges with right-leaning groups that have been giving them fits since the 2010 elections.”
This framing centers the debate on GOP leadership, certainly, and characterizes conservatives as “giving fits” to the more staid, in control leadership. But conservative would say that it was their efforts that brought the House into GOP control in 2010. This might lead conservatives to wonder why the leadership isn’t coming their way in this debate?
But Politico goes on to lament that “Tea party lawmakers are still willing to buck party leaders” often at “the behest” of conservative groups outside of Congress. And it has been tough sledding, Politico says, despite efforts by the GOP’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell (KY), and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA) to organize meetings for those activists.
“In part, leadership’s struggle to woo so-called wingers to its side remains an uphill fight because there is often a basic disagreement within the new conservative base about the best path forward and many tea partiers aren’t interested in the typical horse trading and compromise that typically have helped make deals on Capitol Hill,” Politico writes.
“So-called wingers,” is the left’s rhetoric. Conservatives do not call themselves “wingers.” Further conservatives would say that “horse trading and compromise” only means that they need to buckle to leadership and that is what they aren’t interested in.
Also, if Politico is writing this from the leadership’s point of view and leadership sees the debate as that between themselves and “wingers” that might explain one of the reasons those leaders are not as successful as they’d like. After all, if leadership considers conservatives to be “wingers” that might tend to imply a certain amount of disrespect for the activists at the outset.
Note that Politico also characterized conservatives as something that needed to be “tamed,” saying:
“Veteran conservative activist Ralph Reed said the debates over the best course of action on the Hill demonstrate the ongoing conversation on the right–and the difficulty the GOP leadership faces trying to tame a movement that itself is split into factions.”
Conservatives, of course, would point to those very leaders as the ones that need taming. After all, conservatives feel that they were the ones that brought success to the Republican Party and it is that very moribund leadership that needs to be reigned in.
This latter point is heard every day, for instance, on Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and talk radio. It is also the underlying attitude felt in the efforts of the conservative movement. Tea Party conservatives brought the GOP victory in 2010 in Washington and continued that in the states in 2012. This success has emboldened conservatives and tea party groups to ask why GOP leadership doesn’t come their way?