Republicans currently hold a majority in the House of Representatives. The party is determined to get a majority in the Senate, as well. If Republicans succeed they will spell trouble for Obama in his final years in office. Due to dips in support for the black-and-white governing approach by Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress, the Republican “Establishment” is aiming to endorse candidates that are a bit more moderate than candidates they feel lost seats in the past for being too extreme.
While less Senators now claim to be supporters of the Tea Party, support by American citizens has increased since the government shut down in 2013. Last year, the Tea Party-controlled Republican party refused to compromise with Democrats regarding the national budget and effectively shut down public services.
Many Republicans have begun looking toward 2016 and seek to avoid lofty tea party candidates that may overshadow or alienate a viable Republican President. On Tuesday, Moderates did fairly well in the North Carolina Republican Primary. Thom Tillis walked away with approximately 40 percent, the highest percentage, of the vote and topped other more conservative candidates. Some analysts state that this may not be a fair representation of the true political power of the Tea Party, however.
Tea Party leaders appear ready to battle with more moderate Republicans. The Senate primaries that occur every week until June could underscore the current division in the GOP, potentially to the advantage of Democrats. In Kentucky, for instance, Tea Party-hopeful Matt Bevin spoke during a rally with the aim to legalize cockfighting. Mitch McConnell is expected to take the victory in that state. McConnell is one of a few Republican candidates tasked with the challenge of taking back control from the Tea Party.
While some in the GOP want to rebrand the party, Republicans have recently come under fire for allegations that the party is inherently racist. Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, liberated from the fear of losing supporters after announcing that he will be retiring at the end of his term, pointedly accused Republicans of obstructing laws not for the good of their constituents but because the President is the “wrong color.” Governor Charlie Crist, who switched from Republican to Democrat, states that the party has become reactively against minorities of all kinds. He has said that he could not stay true to himself and remain tied to a party that appears so hostile. Representative Steve Israel admitted that the GOP seems to have elements of racism within its decision-making policy.
Republicans vehemently deny allegations of racism. An easily misinterpreted statement about urban unemployment by Paul Ryan was met with harsh backlash and he has since tried remove the blemish from his public image. Political analyst Nate Silver mentioned an eerie symmetry found by the General Social Survey (GSS) that white Republicans are eight percent “more likely” to hold negative notions regarding black Americans.
In recent years, the GOP has become synonymous with defensive, white, straight male. While some leaders are seeking to reach across the aisle and find a new, more positive image for the Republican party by taking back control from the ultra-conservative tea party, there are many hurdles for a party as divided as the GOP.
By James Ryder