Republican Factions Turn On Shutdown


As the shutdown of the United States Federal government continues, the effort spearheaded by Tea Partiers in the House and, specifically, Ted Cruz, in the Senate, has created descent among Republican factions. As a matter of political calculus, the shutdown is proving to be grossly unpopular. A recent poll conducted by CBS News shows that 72 percent of Americans disapprove of the shutdown. An overwhelming majority of Democrats and Independents want the shutdown over. However, Republicans in the poll are split. 48 percent approve of the shutdown, 49 percent disapprove. Given room for statistical error, this is an even split. There are horrible numbers for elected Republicans and the clear schism within the poll reflects growing division within the Republican Party machinery.

Leading Republican guru, and former Pres. George W. Bush Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, is against the shutdown. His position appears to be strictly pragmatic. His biggest concern is with Independents. A clear majority of them are against the shutdown. Although, Rove believes Independents ultimately side with the GOP in terms of the value of the Affordable Care Act, he sympathizes with their resistance against a shutdown. Written on September 16 in The Wall Street Journal, the Op-Ed is proving prescient. Rove states there is no clear, explainable path to victory. Congressional Republicans are proving him right. Currently, they have indicated no strategy beyond refusing to pass a complete federal budget.

Rove isn’t the only one worried. A faction of Republican governors are worried for both their states and their careers. Federal jobs do not exist in a vacuum. Any disruption to education, military, and bureaucratic jobs will be felt at the state and local level. Hardline conservative Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, known for his anti-union policies, is hardly a moderate.  However, he is against the shutdown. According to The New York Times, Walker states, ” I think there are other ways to pursue this.”  Rove echoes the governor’s concern.  Citing the 1996 shutdown, Rove points out that Congressional Republicans came out unscathed in the Senate, they lost 3 House seats and seven of 11 gubernatorial races.

Finally, a growing number of moderate Republicans are growing restless within the House and Senate. Although there have been predictions of a moderate uprising, none has happened as of yet.  Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) are on record as seeing the shutdown as a waste of time and energy.  So far though, only Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has been willing to cross party lines. Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has decried the shutdown, frustrated by the intransigence of the House of Representatives.

Maintaining a government shutdown requires unity among the various factions of the Republicans. It is growing harder, though, for party leadership to keep its members under control.  This may rankle the tea party wing, but for those who want this shutdown over, these revolts are a positive development.

Written By David Arroyo

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