The Republican Party is in trouble because the Tea Party doesn’t care if they win or lose. The Tea Party wants to win elections—don’t get me wrong—but they don’t care about preserving the Republican Party majority if it means compromising any principles. There’s something commendable in that, but it comes from the same attitude that makes them refuse to bargain with anything with Obama or any Democrats. The latest example of this is immigration reform.
What’s the deal with immigration reform? Here’s the basic story: the Republican Party got slammed in the 2012 election, largely because they lost the Latino, African American and Asian vote by huge margins. That shellacking made the Republican Party quite willing to work on immigration reform in an effort to make amends with the Latino community. The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration overhaul this past summer. The House, controlled by the Republican Party, agreed to take up immigration reform at some point.
After the government shutdown, however, Tea Party House members don’t have much of an appetite for anything that President Obama wants. It would help the Republican Party in the 2014 elections to show some will toward fixing the nation’s immigration system, but Tea Party members are shrugging off the suggestion that they might actually legislate for a little while, essentially saying, “I’m still pouting, try me in 2014.”
Or consider this open letter from the Tea Party Immigration Coalition, a motley of various Tea Party groups, to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus:
“The discussion about ‘immigration reform,’ which we understand as code words for ‘amnesty’ and the support of amnesty voiced by many Republicans in government, and out, has many of our members talking about leaving the Republican Party.
Also, many are saying they are seriously considering support for a Third Party.”
This perfectly encapsulates the Tea Party’s disdain for anything with Democrat fingerprints, and their total disinterest in helping the Republican Party. The Republican Party cares about winning. The Tea Party cares about purity. The thing is, purity to a set of policies that maybe 20% of the country agrees with will make for a party that will struggle in state elections and has no chance in national elections.
Maybe when the Tea Party realizes that, they’ll get in line, but the Republican Party has been waiting for these guys to get in line for three years, and they haven’t taken one step.