National Review: GOP Traditionalists, Tea Party Coming Together

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 10:06 AM

By Andrea Billups

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The establishment and tea party wings of the Republican Party "may well be coming together, not coming apart," according to an article in National Review.

"Both wings of the party are, in fits and starts, converging on a new synthesis," Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru wrote.

"The tea parties have almost since their inception been attacking the party establishment for not standing for anything, and the establishment has been complaining for nearly as long that tea party candidates are not ready for prime time," they wrote. "This primary season, each side seems to be learning the other’s lesson."

Winning elections has pushed both sides to accept the other's strengths, the writers said in their analysis.

"Party establishments too often become expert at the means of acquiring and retaining power and indifferent to its ends, and the Republican establishment has not proven immune to this tendency," the authors wrote.

"Tea partiers have had a clearer sense of the proper ends of conservative politics, which is why we have more often sided with them in these internal disputes; but they have sometimes given too little thought to questions of means. It is just possible that the party as a whole is fumbling toward the right combination — realism about means and idealism about ends — and devising a winning policy agenda."

Lessons learned by both wings of the party shone through in recent tough elections with the shocking ouster of Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor and the runoff fight in Mississippi that saw longtime incumbent Rep. Thad Cochran of Mississippi finally oust his tea party challenger in a nail-biter election. Those races and others, show the media script about such party divisions may be way off as Republicans finally move to the same page, according to National Review.

"The press has wanted to say that the establishment is 'winning' or 'losing' the primaries, but there is no such overall pattern. In most of these races, the 'establishment' and 'tea party' factions have been rather loosely defined," Lowry and Ponnuru wrote.

"It appears that at the center of the Republican electorate are many voters who are not hostile to either group," they wrote. "They do not think of tea partiers as a bunch of crazies, or the Republican hierarchy as a group of quislings ... And so the races have, for the most part, turned on specific issues and candidate quality rather than on which faction claims each candidate for its own."

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