Conservative confidence in the Republican Party has been low for some time. After top Republicans demonstrated almost no will to fight President Obama’s executive action on immigration, the conservative base was fraught with rage. There were calls to remove John Boehner from his position as Speaker of the House. Many have seen the last six months of congressional machinations as one of two things: total betrayal or evidence of spinelessness in the GOP. And according to North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, it’s not just the voters.
In an interview this week with Politico, Meadows said that a group of conservatives in the House of Representatives is planning a major shakeup at the top of the party. He says these conservatives have grown tired of the “culture of punishment” coming from Boehner and friends. Meadows himself was a victim of this culture, having been removed from a subcommittee chairmanship after voting against the leadership.
“It’s not about ideology,” Meadows said in the interview. “It’s about that all members of Congress need to have their voice heard and this is a place for debate. Not a place for punishment. People should not be worried about the type of vote they cast, ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ based on retribution.”
Meadows’ concerns have been obvious even from the outside. Conservatives in Congress have been battling Boehner as much as they have been battling the liberal agenda. All too often, unfortunately, those aims come to the same. And while Meadows is not explicitly calling for Boehner to turn in his wings, his willingness to go public with these complaints demonstrates how fractured the party has become.
Politico speculates that instead of ousting the leadership – a task that would likely prove impossible, simply because of the numbers – House conservatives may begin voting with Democrats on procedural motions. That would prevent Boehner from getting legislation through and forces the party to take seriously the true conservatives still waving a flag for small government.
It remains to be seen how all of this will play out, but the fight should be of great interest to voters who want to see the Republican Party return to its roots. We’ve watched in frustration as RINOs ascend to the top of the party, advancing the cause of big business over the cause of the American people. We’ve agonized as Republican leadership talks big and delivers small. We understand that compromise and moderation is an important part of Washington politics, but there’s a vast gulf between compromise and conceit. It has been a long time since most conservatives felt well represented on Capitol Hill.
At the same time, it’s distressing to see these fractures as we approach the 2016 election. It’s important now for the GOP to get everyone on the same page. And it wouldn’t hurt if the “page” they choose is one that aligns with the wishes of the voters.