Bloody GOP civil war

Behind the scenes, Democrats in the White House and Congress are virtually trembling with anticipatory hope that Republicans in Congress crash the government to a halt with a shutdown aimed at preventing funding for ObamaCare.

My view is that the shutdown idea will be dead as a doornail within days of Congress returning from its summer recess. I could certainly be wrong, and to be honest my Democratic loyalties make me hope that I am wrong, because a shutdown would trigger huge national outrage against the GOP. But, the shutdown would be bad for America, and GOP congressional leaders know it could be disastrous for their party, so most likely they will shut down the shutdown before the suicide squads on the right can make it happen.

Do not underestimate the political carnage and bloodshed to come from the Republican Party’s civil war with itself — it’s already begun, and will escalate to thermonuclear destruction through the presidential primaries in 2016. If you think Republicans despise President Obama, wait until they demonstrate their contempt for and rage against each other.

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The GOP civil war pits one faction, which I will call the neo-confederate faction, against what I call the nationalist faction, which views the GOP as a national party and a big tent in the tradition of all previous Republican presidents, including and especially Ronald Reagan.

The neo-confederates are spearheaded by GOP firebrands such as Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), former Wasilla Mayor and part-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the ubiquitous birther Donald Trump and a lengthy cast of smaller characters who increasingly resemble a political freak show more than a political party (what do you say about statewide candidates who cannot take a clear position against rape?).

The de facto leader of the nationalist Republicans is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is by far the potential GOP presidential nominee most feared — with good reason — by Democrats. The biggest congressional figure for the GOP nationalist faction is Arizona Sen. John McCain, and while they dare not admit it too clearly, GOP leaders in Congress have a private sympathy with the nationalists but are often forced to pay public homage to the neo-confederates.

The neo-confederates believe in a politics of purity that the nationalists believe will destroy the GOP and lead to a 16-year Democratic presidency of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A prominent nationalist, the widely admired former Republican leader Bob Dole, recently warned Republicans of their peril.

The neo-confederates believe in a brand of nullification. They seek to nullify the legitimacy of Obama’s two election victories. Some tried to nullify the president’s Americanism. They seek to nullify a healthcare law that was passed by Congress and signed by the president that they lack the support to repeal. They seek to nullify climate change by claiming it does not exist. Many neo-confederates would nullify science itself, when data and facts contradict their theology-like ideology.

The nationalist Republicans believe the GOP should be a broad national party, reaching out to diverse constituencies, taking positions Republicans have historically taken such as openness to immigration, significant healthcare reform, civil rights and voting rights, support for collective bargaining and protection of the environment.

It is no coincidence that the neo-confederates try to obstruct blacks from voting, alienate so many Hispanics and younger voters and are charged with waging wars against the interests of women: the neo-confederates believe the nationalists would lead the GOP in ways that would destroy their narrow vision of America. 

This intra-party GOP civil war will be fought with a near-religious intensity and will lead to bloodshed and carnage that will be unprecedented in modern American politics, and make the GOP antipathy to Obama look tame by comparison.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net

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