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Clashing Worldviews Roil the GOP

Two worldviews defining reality differently have brought the GOP to the brink of fissure.

by
Rick Moran

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October 19, 2013 - 11:23 pm
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The Tea Party is not crazy nor are those who oppose them (let’s call them “the establishment”) unprincipled “collaborators” with Democrats. But that’s how each side views the other. And the reason for that lies at the heart of the most consequential political struggle in more than a generation — a civil war in the Republican Party that threatens its very existence.

Why should this be so? An objective look at the positions both sides take on the issues would reveal very little difference between them. This is especially true when looking at the broad sweep of policy on taxes, regulations, individual liberty, and the size of government. On individual issues like immigration reform or foreign-policy matters, the differences are vast but not unbridgeable — at least not as vast as the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Both sides also share broadly similar values, religious beliefs, and a common way of viewing our history and culture.

The impetus that is driving this war that becomes more bitter and personal almost every day is to be found in the way each side views and interprets reality. Not the kind of substantive physical reality in which we all exist, where two people standing side by side look out a window and both agree they see a tree. Both agree the tree has green leaves shaped like a maple leaf. Both agree the sky is blue. There is no disputing substantive reality (although the intensity of the colors green and blue might be interpreted differently by our observers).

Rather, what divides the Tea Party and the establishment is what’s sometimes called Weltanschauung, or worldview. This is reality as it is interpreted communally when facts, ideas, people, and events are filtered through an ideological or philosophical prism. Epistemological questions about “what is true and what is false” can be answered differently depending on how one’s worldview has been shaped by experience and knowledge. In this sense, while there may be an objective “right or wrong” there may not be an agreed upon “true or false.” It is the metaphysically subjective interpretation of the objective reality of ideas and events that divides the Republican Party and threatens to blow it apart at the seams.

Both the Tea Party and the establishment believe Obamacare to be bad: coercive, ruinous to the economy, injurious to personal liberty, and inimical to our founding principles. No Republican voted for it. But in compromising to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, the establishment is viewed by the Tea Party as having betrayed “principle.”

Why? Erick Erickson explains:

Men like Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and others have preached a great sermon against Obamacare, but now conservatives who supported them see that these men have refused to actually practice what they’ve been preaching. They’ve refused to stand and fight with the rest of us.

The fight was always about Obamacare. Today we know we must keep fighting and fight harder against even our own supposed side. But we always knew the fight would force the charlatans of the GOP out of the shadows into disinfecting sunlight. It has happened as I wrote it would almost a month ago.

In the Tea Party’s reality, Obamacare is so bad as to be catastrophic; indeed, a default might be preferable to the implementation of the ACA. And to “stand and fight” — even though there was no chance of success — was worth whatever cost to the party politically, or the cost to the economy in keeping the government shuttered. Anyone opposing this position is a “charlatan” — despite the fact that the charlatans all voted against Obamacare and would defund it in a second if it were at all possible. (Note: It’s nonsense to think that Erickson and the Tea Party didn’t know who every single one of the “charlatans” are. That kind of hyperbole is not meant to inform, but to rabble-rouse.)

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I'm glad to see that you are coming around to the fact that the Tea Party has its points, but consider this iif you are looking for unity: why does John McCain seem far more upset with Ted Cruz than he does with Harry Reid? There is not a vice versa there.

The other point is that to a very large degree this is not about worldview but about a concern of corruption. We believe that there is a lot of Republicans in D.C. who feel their bread is buttered with bigger government and have little interest in doing what is right, and that is the major motivator of their allying with Ds against the Tea Party.





1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"worldview" has nothing to do with this. The establishment types are exactly that. They are motivated to preserve the status quo and they were revealed in this last fight to be two faced hypocrites. Do you think that John McCain gives a dam about fighting Obamacare? Forget it. These people are defined by their own self interest and just want to kick the can down the road. These same lame brain morans are now teaming up with the liberals to give us an Amnesty bill that will sell out conservatives for all time. So take your wordview nonsense and see of Politico will publish it. We know traitors to conservatism, free markets, consitutional constraints, and fiscal disciplien when we see it. There is only one solution to this mess and Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are it. We need more men and women with backbones who want to fight and take back this country. Worldview has nothing to do with this. Character and truth is what this is all about. We know who enemy number one is right now and it is tiime to go after these DC insiders with a vengence at the polls. Nice try though.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I disagree with your major premise that the establishment GOP cannot be defeated in their primaries. Yes, incumbents do have deeper pockets, but this time what the TEAPARTY has is the power of an idea. The idea of ACA is going to resonate with the voting public as this is a pocket book issue.
Just wait for those incumbents to be on the campaign trail hollering that they were ALWAYS against Obamacare, before they were for it, just after they were against it. This time they won't be able to hide their hypocrisy like McCain did with immigration in 2008.
I see major changes coming in the Republican party in 2008.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (66)
All Comments   (66)
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If the New Left/DSA mafia could take over the Dem machine, the Teas can take over the Restablican machine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Take over the Republican Party? Apparently, we can't even take over PJ Media.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Clear out the human shields, then the real battle against the Enemy- occupiers from the foreign nation of DC- can begin.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All I know is this. The Republican brand made it a defacto party plank to defund Obamacare. In the run up to the '10 & '12 elections it was the major theme. Romney said he would sign a repeal and so did every candidate for office, right down to the town latrine cleaner. Then Moran's view of reality suddenly dawned right about the Wednesday after the Tuesday of the election. That is absolute reality. NowI am determined to disempower the Republican party. It is an impotent and unreliable foe to the Democrats, the left, progressivism, liberalism, call it what may. I can't fight an enemy with an enemy at my side.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agreed. Much better to face the enemy bayonet head on than to discover it growing out of one's sternum.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> There was no “fight” to defund Obamacare because, technically, legislatively, and practically speaking, there was no chance of that happening.

C'mon, Moran. When was the last time the establishment Republicans ever put up a real fight for principle? The only time they show any spark at all is when they're lambasting their own base (e.g., for not supporting Shamnesty).

Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy explains all this. There are two types of people who work for an organization: those who work toward accomplishing the organization's explicit purpose, and those work for the organization itself. The former, we'll call the idealists; the latter, the apparatchik ('reptiles' would work too). As the Iron Law explains, in every organization, it is always the apparatchik who wind up in charge of the organization -- every time, without exception.

Those idealists whom the apparatchik cannot defeat are co-opted. Let's take a famous example: Ronald Reagan. During Reagan's career, he was hated by the Republican apparatchik. But when he won elections, he was surrounded and eventually co-opted, going so far as to choose the apparatchik Bush as his successor, even though Bush had said and done many nasty things about and toward Reagan during the primaries. And today, the apparatchik brandishes the Reagan record like they were the ones responsible for bringing it about.

The apparatchik is uncomfortable with ideas, and that's why they spend so little effort arguing on their behalf. (As Thomas Sowell wryly suggested a couple of weeks ago, if the proposition that 2 + 2 = 4 depended on Republicans to make the case, everything that depends on mathematics would be in serious trouble.) If they have one serious belief, it is that of course conservatives should support them because... well, because they should. But that isn't a serious belief either, is it?

In fact, if the Tea Partiers ever do succeed in taking over the Party, those apparatchiks would be the first ones to bounce down the stairwells on their keisters along with their brief cases and Brooks Bros. suits. But don't worry, more will come to take their place -- just, hopefully, not until after something good has been accomplished.

I think the Republican apparatchik are genuinely flummoxed that they're being challenged from the Right -- why, don't conservatives want the Republicans to win? The apparatchik thinks politically, and think the idealists should think politically too.

And therein lies the weakness of the GOP: politicians thinking politically is what has gotten us into this mess. Politicians exist to broker money and power. It's what they do. One party, the Democrats, revels in the task and behaving like politicians does not contradict their idealistic goals -- indeed, it fulfills them. The other party, the GOP, also revels in the task, but have to pretend otherwise at election time, because behaving like politicians infuriates their base.

As a result, you can bet the Republican apparatchik will always be the ones to cave in. Their hearts just aren't in smaller, less powerful, cheaper government. Think of them as crocodiles who are truly sorry they had to help the alligators eat that poor deer. Sob. Sniff. Who brought the ketchup? (show less)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" On individual issues like immigration reform or foreign-policy matters, the differences are vast but not unbridgeable ..."

Lies! Are you kidding??? The establishment wants open frigging borders!! McCain wants to invade Syria with absolutely NO PLAN. This column is rubbish, and a pathetic attempt to mollify conservatives. Screw you. The war is still on.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think you'll find many Tea Party people believe that we could have gotten something better if only the GOP had held together. We might not have gotten the full defund, but getting -anything- substative would have won many of us over.

Now it's up to the GOP to show they can fight for something and not collapse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't kid yourself. My worldview is broad enough to consider both arguments and the Establishment is found to be lacking. Their self-aggrandizing commitment to governance is sickening. We elect representatives, not governors. I will not sit down and shut up as McCain, McConnell and Cornyn demand. The supporters of Obamacare glibly speak of winners and losers under the program. Obama will take advantage of the winners, who will give voice to the interests of the losers if not our GOP representatives. Cruz and Lee did speak for the losers while GOP leaders were MIA. McCain couldn't explain his own health care plan when he ran in 2008, five years later he has no clue how Obamacare works or how many will be hurt. While Cruz fought, the GOP surrendered in the name of governance? Govern this, you wimps.

This is also about fraud. The GOP raises millions on the promise of stopping Obamacare, then holding show votes that they know are futile and pounding their chests. Cornyn emailed a proclamation that he was voting to defund Obamacare as he asked for campaign funds. The very next morning he was whipping Senate votes to defeat Cruz. Dishonest politicians deserve to be primaried and voted out.

Living in the biosphere of DC is not a worldview, it is a chimera.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Some things are so evil have have to be destroyed.
The fields of government tyranny have to be salted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Healthy, even violent debate, is a good thing. The lockstep Dems are the ones with a problem.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The reality inhabited by establishment Republicans is decidedly different. What the Tea Party sees as naked betrayal, the establishment sees as responsible governance. The irony is that the Tea Party will counter that trying to defund Obamacare is real responsible governance.

Where do you draw the line? Where do you say"This is intolerable and must go"? Should the Founding Fathers have simply negotiated with King George? They tried, several times - eventually they had to resort to force of arms. Would the author have had them simply give up and go along with the crown (who wanted to soak the colonists in order to fund other activities)? Remember, the colonists were all British citizens and supposedly had a say in matters.

"Responsible governance" also includes fighting against those things that are not only inconvenient but intolerable. If the main-stream GOP would agree to fight for to its own founding principles than yes, we could defund the ACA. After all, following the law as laid down in the supposedly supreme Constitution, that is a perfectly valid legislative tactic that can be used by the opposition party.

Yes, it comes down to worldviews, but part of the problem is that the GOP worldview seems to be to always "go along to get along" and never, ever stand on principle. They never explain to their constituents how this will defeat the statist laws passed by the Democrats, reduce taxes and bad spending, or improve individual liberty. Indeed, the worldview of the GOP appears to be little different from that of the Democrats themselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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