The fractures and infighting between various factions of the GOP will be on full display to the public tonight in each of the five Republican response speeches, scheduled around President Obama’s State of The Union Address. Senator Cruz will speak prior to the President’s speech, in what MSNBC is calling a “pre-buttal,” with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers giving the official Republican response after the address.
In addition to these, Representative lleana Ros-Lehtinen will deliver the party’s Spanish language response, Senator Mike Lee will offer up the official Tea Party line and Senator Rand Paul will simply be giving his own address, where many a drinking game is expected to center on the words “free market.”
This diversified and generally scattered rebuttal strategy is but the latest embarrassment in what is an often comical, ongoing civil war within the ranks of the conservative movement. With upstarts from all factions, ranging from the generally mindless reactionary tea party, to the decades long libertarian insurgency up through the ranks of the religious right and Republican establishment, all jockeying for the ideological (and personal) spotlight reflected from the President’s address, many are seeing this as the most blatant example of the GOP’s complete absence of leadership.
And yet beyond the topical, inane aspect to having a Republican panel each delivering their own special variety of conservative responses, the matter of the utter politicizing of what is meant to be a stately, national event, experiences by way of this circus a further denigration of a public institution. In 2009, Republican Joe Wilson stunned the nation when be broke decorum, yelling “you lie” as the President spoke. In the following year, America endured its first dual response speeches from conservatives in Congress, with both a Republican Party and Tea Party address being issued in response as well.
The eagerness with which some conservatives jump at the chance to offer a rebuttal to the President, while not surprising, does not bode well as the country begins the new year with memories of the gridlock and bitter divisions of the last still fresh in its memories. Conservative and Tea Party activists are already trotting out their regressive and theocratic agendas and swearing by their own orthodoxies as the only true measure of “what a true conservative is.” With no effective jobs plans coming out of the Republican house and the President now having to take executive action to raise what minimum wages he can, topics such as economic priorities and income inequality are expected to be the top topics of the night.
However with the midterm elections rapidly approaching and the primary season offering up a wide variety of orthodox fringe conservatives looking to eat their own incumbents, the likelihood of compromise between the parties seems sadly to be even more diminished than before.