In what is shaping up to be a year of setbacks for the Republican Party’s far right, last Friday’s budget deal can only be seen as yet another defeat.
Senator Ted Cruz labeled the deal “a slap in the face to conservatives.” Thus conservatives on Capitol Hill and elsewhere will now have to come to terms with developments that are diametrically opposed to their long term goals. Sequester spending caps will be exceeded for both defense and social programs and overall government spending caps will move higher. The bi-partisan effort that affected the budget deal also resurrected the Export – Import Bank, long a target of the far right. Meanwhile the big winners coming out of the budget deal are among the far right’s most hated foes: President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the entitlement programs of Medicare and Social Security. Another winner in the process is incoming Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
Outside conservative think tanks were clearly losers as well: “It was a rough stretch for outside conservative groups that have frequently worked to flex muscle in the Capitol. Heritage Action and Club for Growth joined forces to blast the budget accord as it drifted away from spending caps — and put lawmakers on notice that they were watching the vote. But it ultimately was for naught.”
The far right has been sustained for years by the false notion, often promulgated by sympathetic media, that America is a right of center country, but the fact of the matter is that it isn’t and never has been. If it was Barack Obama would have never been elected in the first place let alone been reelected in 2012. When it comes to divining the temperament of the American electorate I believe that conservative columnist George Will summed it up perfectly when he said: “The American people are conservative. What they want to conserve is the New Deal.”
What last Friday’s budget deal shows is that the more moderate elements in the G.O.P. may finally be realizing that they can’t govern without compromising. Perhaps many of the Republican moderates are finally coming to their senses, with regard to the marriage of convenience that joining forces with the Tea Party represented, and that is that it’s time to initiate divorce proceedings.
Steven J. Gulitti