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On Jan. 6, 2015, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives re-elected John Boehner (R‑OH) as Speaker. However, 25 of the House’s most con­ser­v­ative Repub­licans, sup­ported by outside groups like Free­dom­Works and other Tea Party orga­ni­za­tions, voted against Speaker Boehner in one of the biggest rebel­lions in the House’s recent history. Those hard-line con­ser­v­a­tives, like Louie Gohmert (R‑TX) and Thomas Massie (R‑KY), opposed the Speaker because they thought he had “sur­ren­dered” to Pres­ident Obama and the pro­gres­sives. Hard-liners see Speaker Boehner’s support of the CRom­nibus spending mea­sures as an example of sur­render. Passed in December, the $1.1 trillion spending bill will keep the gov­ernment running through Sep­tember of this year. Those on the far right of the GOP argue that this is a sur­render because it con­tained “riders,” and did not use the power of the purse to shut down Pres­ident Obama’s exec­utive action, granting amnesty to a large number of illegal immi­grants.

The hard-liners are wrong about the CRom­nibus. Overall, the bill was a Repub­lican victory, not a sur­render. The bill had a number of mea­sures that con­ser­v­a­tives ought to support. For instance, it delayed energy effi­ciency stan­dards set to be imposed on light bulbs soon, cut the IRS’s budget, put the brakes on Michelle Obama’s school lunch program, and elim­i­nated certain pro­vi­sions from the Dodd-Frank Act which put unnec­essary reg­u­la­tions on banks. Not only that, but the gov­ernment is being funded until Sep­tember; Repub­licans and Democrats will not face the prospect of a gov­ernment shutdown in the critical early stages of the new Con­gress.

Also, just because the GOP did not push through mea­sures coun­ter­acting Pres­ident Obama’s uncon­sti­tu­tional exec­utive actions does not mean the party will not take action against it in the new Con­gress — in fact, the House recently passed a bill which repeals the president’s actions in full. What hard-liners do not under­stand about the CRom­nibus is that Repub­licans need to plan battles wisely. There is a time to win debate on issues like the president’s uncon­sti­tu­tional acts, or cutting wasteful spending, but that place was not in the last Con­gress, when the GOP did not have a Senate majority with which to partner.

The new Senate majority makes it easier for the House to pass con­ser­v­ative reforms and easier to bring the fight to Pres­ident Obama and his sup­porters. That is exactly what Boehner has been doing. Under his lead­ership, the House has passed leg­is­lation which would allow the Key­stone XL pipeline to finish con­struction, adopted new trans­parency rules drafted by Con­gressman Justin Amash (R‑MI), voted in favor of elim­i­nating harmful reg­u­la­tions, and passed numerous pro-veteran bills. Speaker Boehner has not been in retreat during this Con­gress — he is in full-on attack mode. Those con­ser­v­a­tives who voted for him earlier this month have been vin­di­cated.

The fight between the hard-liners and the GOP estab­lishment lead­ership is the same fight that has been tearing apart the Repub­lican Party since the Tea Party emerged during the 2010 elec­tions. The far right says that the more mod­erate ele­ments of the party are “RINOs” or “fake con­ser­v­a­tives,” and that they are little better than the Demo­c­ratic Party.

I find that attitude naïve. Mod­erate Repub­licans have the same goals as the Tea Partiers. Mod­erates want to reduce gov­ernment and restore it to its con­sti­tu­tional limits. The only dif­ference is that mod­erate Repub­licans rec­ognize that we live in a republic, not a monarchy. Just because we will some­thing does not mean it ought to come about. Tea Partiers and their abso­lutist approach to pol­itics, cannot win in the long run.

Pol­itics is the art of the pos­sible. Tea Partiers need to rec­ognize that we cannot win simply by being right, we also have to be popular with the elec­torate that matters the most — center-of-the-road inde­pen­dents. Betraying prin­ciples is never right, but delaying fights for another day where victory is more fore­seeable is not nec­es­sarily wrong. Boehner has been a fine leader, and his con­tinued lead­ership will enable Repub­licans to bring their con­ser­v­ative message to Con­gress.

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Michael Lucchese
Michael Lucchese ‘18 is majoring in American Studies, and is a member of the Dow Journalism Program. In addition to the Collegian, he has also contributed to The Federalist, Acculturated, Conservative Review, and several other publications. In 2015, he reported on national security and foreign policy for Breitbart News. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Michael Lucchese Show on Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM. e-mail: mlucchese@hillsdale.edu Twitter: @MichaelLucchese