The tea party: No longer a faction of the Republican Party

As the recently “averted” political and economic crisis got kicked down the road, many pundits are referring to a civil war within the Republican Party: the tea party vs. moderate Republicans. Unfortunately, this statement is not accurate. Based on the actual votes, it appears they have become one and the same.

I always say to observers of politics, watch what they do, not what they say. And in politics, “what they do” means “how they vote.” Despite all these Republicans who are now slamming the tea party for creating the shutdown/economic crisis, when push came to shove, more than 95 percent of them voted the tea party line every time they had a chance.

  • Did more than 95 percent vote to shut down government at the behest of the tea party? Yup.
  • Did more than 95 percent vote to defund Obamacare at the behest of the tea party? Yup.
  • Did more than 95 percent vote to postpone the individual mandate at the behest of the tea party? Yup.
  • Did more than 95 percent vote to damage our economy by over $24 billion at the behest of the tea party? Yup.
  • Did more than 95 percent essentially vote to decrease the Republican Party to 24-percent popularity at the best of the tea party? Yup.

Here’s a link to all the House votes during the crisis. Click on each roll call related to re-opening the government and you will see that no more than 12 Republicans ever opposed the tea party agenda.

And here’s a link to the Senate votes during the crisis. Click on each roll call related to the actual budget shutdown, other than procedural votes, and you will see every member of the Senate vote the tea party line. Every. Single. One.

In fact, although people like to say that the tea party was beaten back by Republicans in the final vote to end the crisis, that is also incorrect. On the final vote, Republicans as a whole (between the two bodies) voted by a substantial margin, 152-115, in favor of continuing the shutdown and doing even more economic damage. And that number even includes their vice presidential nominee from 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan.

Therefore, as I said, it is no longer accurate to say that the tea party is a faction of the Republican Party. They are one and the same, and we should refer to them that way until they show us something different through their votes. –Ethan Strimling

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