I suppose it is a good thing that Juan Williams is still gainfully employed. He is sort of an object lesson that you don’t have to have either knowledge of or interest in what you are writing about in order to make a damned good living doing it.
Is the Freedom Caucus moving the United States toward a European-style coalition government?
At the moment, the 40-plus hard-right conservatives in the Freedom Caucus have all but created their own political party by blocking the majority of Republicans in the House from picking a Speaker.
And, like a third party, the Freedom Caucus has its own legislative agenda — ending ObamaCare, cutting the budget, building a wall on the southern border. The only question is whether its members are willing to make deals that will attract enough Republicans or Democrats to pass legislation.
That is the operating dynamic of a multiparty, coalition democracy.
This goes beyond silly, accelerates and lands in StupidLand. The Freedom Caucus isn’t following its own legislative agenda. Let’s take a trip all the way back to 2012 and look at the GOP platform for Mitt Romney’s run for the White House and see what it said about “ending ObamaCare, cutting the budget, building a wall on the southern border.”
Page 32. Repealing Obamacare.
Page 3. Cutting the budget.
Page 26. Building a wall on the southern border.
So, actually, the Freedom Caucus represents the principles articulated by the GOP in the last, and in several previous elections. The disagreement in the GOP caucus represents a conflict between members of Congress who gave their word of honor to their constituents and a lot of unprincipled sellouts who said whatever it took to get elected.
From there Williams goes on to make a great case for the Freedom Caucus not being a third party:
Last week, a new poll confirmed there is genuine, significant support among GOP voters for the Freedom Caucus’s discontent with establishment Republican leaders.
The Economist/YouGov Poll found 39 percent of all Republicans and 45 percent of self-identified conservative Republicans siding with the Freedom Caucus position that a good Speaker puts unflinching ideological rigidity ahead of accomplishing legislative deals with Democrats to pass laws and budgets.
Similarly, the poll found 58 percent of conservative Republicans saying they want a new Speaker who “sticks to their principles no matter what.”
That is far different from the poll’s finding that 60 percent of all Americans think the next Speaker should “work with Democrats and the President so that Congress can accomplish more.” Only 18 percent of all Americans and 16 percent of independent voters think the next House Speaker should “oppose Democrats and the President even if that means Congress accomplishes less.”
In fact, 59 percent of conservative Republicans told the pollsters they want the next Speaker to be more conservative than Boehner. Among all Republicans, the percentage holding that opinion drops markedly, to 48 percent.
Not to put too fine a point on it but “Americans” got their chance to vote for Speaker in 2014 and they chose [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ]. The fact that there are only 40 or so members of the Freedom Caucus (about 20% of the House GOP) and about 40% of Republicans agree with them, that indicates the Freedom Caucus is under-represented in the House. The fact that 48% of Republicans want a more conservative Speaker indicates that the Freedom Caucus is well within the mainstream of any political party based on a diversity of views. That would not be the Democrat party.
Williams’s real agenda, beyond cashing a check, seems to be smearing the Freedom Caucus as some kind of foreign influence, an “other” that should be shunned:
This is also why any new Speaker, including the popular [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] (R-Wis.), will inherit a fractured, unruly and ungovernable caucus. The solution is for the Tea Party members to go their own way, pick their own leader and work with the Republicans when it fits their agenda.
The irony here is that the Tea Party, which regularly decries “European socialism” and professes “American exceptionalism,” will put the Congress of the United States in a position where it can only function as a European-type parliamentary democracy such as France, Britain or Germany.
History will record it as a curious legacy for the Tea Party.
Factions are a part of party politics. Within, for instance, Britain’s Labour Party there are identifiable factions and there always have been. Perhaps the most notable was the “Militant Tendency” faction which essentially operated as a wing of the Soviet Communist Party. The idea that the Freedom Caucus represents, at least at this point, the nucleus of a separate party is little short of deranged. And so we find it in a Juan Williams column.