Lindsey Graham's Tea Party Opposition Shows Republican Divide

The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party is attempting to replace conservative Senator Lindsey Graham, showing the party's divide.

Senator Lindsey Graham speaking to reporters on Syria

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), here speaking to reporters on a military strike in Syria, is under attack by members from within his own party. (Image Source: Reuters)

One would think that Senator Lindsey Graham is in a safe position.  A powerful conservative Senator that is popular in his home state of South Carolina, one would think Graham would likely coast to reelection in 2014 in the seat previously held by state legend Strom Thurmond.  However, in a calculated move, South Carolina groups associated with the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party have presented a resolution to state party leaders in an attempt to oust Graham from his seat, replacing him with a "more conservative" Senator.  The move comes as Graham expresses support for a military strike in Syria, and represents the Republican Party's divide between isolationist Tea Partiers that wish to obstruct President Barack Obama's agenda, and traditional conservatives that may fight the President but still attempt to get some work done in Congress.

The Tea Party organizations presented a 29-point memo, seen below, to state Republican Party leaders on Sunday through the Chesterfield County GOP, explaining that Senator Lindsey Graham was no longer fit for duty because he had failed to follow the state party platform in his term as Senator.  What Tea Partiers have issue with Graham most seems to be his interventionist policy, especially in regards to Syria, with the number two point being "Supported arming al Quaeda [sic]/Muslim Brotherhood Revolutionaries in Syria."  He is also attacked for supporting using drones on American citizens.  Also at issue was Lindsey Graham's attempts to end drawn-out debates by working with Senate Democrats in passing the nomination of several federal officials, top among them the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray.

Given Lindsey Graham's popularity, it's a bit surprising that the Tea Party would go after him.  But the Tea Party's attack is indicative of an intense struggle behind the scenes.  On the one hand exist traditional conservatives whose intent is to impose a conservative agenda, but are willing to make compromises and cut deals with Democrats to get things done and survive being voted out of office by the opposition.  On the other, Tea Party Republicans look to impose a specific agenda, and refuse to compromise on their principles, even if it means shutting down Washington.  Graham is thus a target not because he is conservative enough, but because he wants to, you know, not be responsible for shutting down the government and make people lose out their Social Security checks.

Despite this attack, Graham's prospects remain solid:  Poll numbers indicate he would defeat the "more conservative" candidate in a primary today in a landslide.  It seems unlikely that Graham will lose his Senate seat in 2014.  Still, the brazen attack by Tea Partiers indicate that they wish to break the Republican Party and remold it to their image, which will greatly affect their hopes in the long term.  The left can only look at this and smugly laugh.




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