Now that the first government shutdown in 17 years is over, many are talking about the civil war that has erupted in the Republican Party. That is, many in the Tea Party faction of the national Republican Party will seek to take on many of the old line establishment Republican Senators in the 2014 elections. While this is a fight among Republicans, voters must be mindful and watchful as to how it will impact the nation as a whole.
I am old enough to remember Arizona's Republican Senator Barry Goldwater who won the Republican presidential nomination in 1964 as what was then considered a far right candidate. Indeed, many laughed at his prospects and he did lose the '64 presidential election in a very big way. However, no one would dispute that it was his conservative faction, deemed wacky by many, that led to the Reagan revolution in 1980.
What distinguished the Goldwater Republicans were their conviction and their true believer status. Their passion in their beliefs and their disregard for those who thought them fools led to not only to the new moral majority; but the taking of the House of Representatives in the 1994 midterm elections. We forget how the Newt Gingrich "Contract with America" campaign recaptured the House of Representatives for the Republicans for the first time in 40 years.
Those victories by the so-called "wacky" coalition led to deep changes in the American body politic which included an assault on private sector unions and ultimately the assault we have seen in recent years on public sector unions. They convinced blue collar America that the principles of laissez faire capitalism would keep them employed. They were obviously very wrong.
I was talking with a congressman the other night who was remarking that anyone who thought the environment in the congress would change as a result of the effect of the government's shutdown and the poll numbers for Republicans as a result of the shutdown would be seriously wrong. His belief, if you will, was that when dealing with people who were willing to suffer political death for their beliefs, there would be little if any room for compromise that would benefit the majority of American people. In other words, when dealing with those who are not afraid to lose, you are dealing with those who will risk all to achieve their goals. Something that any big winner will tell you must be there if you are to have big wins.
The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party may be engaged in a civil war within their own national party ranks now, but their goal is too transform the Republican Party to lead what they believe will transform America in revolutionary ways by taking Americans back to fundamentalist far right positions that many believed have long been settled otherwise. The nation as a whole cannot just watch their intra-party battle. We must be preparing to educate all of America that a House of Representatives divided without any possibility of mature debate and governmental compromise for the general welfare of the nation is a house that voters cannot allow to stand.
Michael A. Hardy, Esq. is General Counsel and Executive Vice-President to National Action Network (NAN). He has been involved in many of this nation's highest profiled cases involving violations of civil or human rights. He continues to supervise National Action Network's crisis unit and hosts a monthly free legal clinic at NAN New York City's House of Justice.