Congratulations, Mr. Boehner. As expected, you won the battle for Speaker of the House. If reports are correct, you also took the first step to help cause a Republican loss in the presidential election of 2016. By punishing those who voted against you, you sent a “who needs you” message to vast numbers of Republicans who have already been questioning their loyalty to a party from which they increasingly feel alienated.
Those who voted against you were doing their job expressing the wishes of those citizens who sent them to Washington. They also expressed the frustrations of other voters in swing states. Their numbers are growing.
Like many Americans, I am appalled at how President Obama used the Internal Revenue Service to silence his critics. Like many conservatives, I am appalled at the idea that you would use your office to remove your critics from key positions or ensure that they are not on the committees of their choice. When the Wall Street Journal reports that, “Several GOP lawmakers who decided not to vote for Mr. Boehner said they saw consequences…Mr. Boehner wasn’t involved in that decision, a GOP leadership aide said,” that doesn’t pass the smell test. No one thinks that President Obama himself called IRS employees and told them to commit illegal actions against conservative groups. Most conservatives do not doubt that the culture he cultivates means that no direct words from him are necessary. If there are valid reasons for individuals not to be on committees because they opposed you, stand up and explain why that should be. If they are not being kept off committees, stand up and say that. As it is, you look petty and vindictive and the actions bolster the argument of those who feel that both parties are equally corrupt.
Each vote against you represented a huge swathe of Americans. Many of these Americans, like me, spent months in anguish watching Mitt Romney lose a very winnable election. He chose to run his campaign by listening to a cadre of establishment voices and highly paid consultants rather than to the Republican Party base. While some, perhaps most, of these present or past Republicans did pull the lever for Mr. Romney, they did not speak of him with enthusiasm to their co-workers, canvass their neighborhoods for him, put bumper stickers on their cars or contribute in other ways to his campaign. There were many public voices articulating frustration on conservative websites and radio. These were ignored and the election was lost for many of the reasons put forth by those you and your friends see as ‘the wacko Tea Party.’
You are correct that the American people look to see results of a Republican Congress over the next two years. Grandstanding may not be the best tactic. However, Americans also seek to feel a connection with that Congress. It is not enough for legislators to talk among yourselves, craft bills and calculate votes. You need to build a relationship with Americans. Rather than trying quixotically to connect with those who will never vote for your party anyway, it would behoove Republicans to actually talk to conservative and conservative-leaning America. By punishing, rather than listening to those who opposed you, you are unintentionally expanding the growth of the Tea Party. It may not be an official third party, but even as a ghost party, it, rather than the ethnic, economic and gender groups the Democratic Party loves to manipulate, is the secret to success in 2016. Neither the establishment nor the Tea Party has the ability to win without joining forces. You can play a role in promoting success.
I feel so passionately about this that I called your office (202-225-0600) and expressed my disappointment. I did this because I truly do wish you well. Our country is in grave danger and you are in a position of leadership. May God give you the wisdom and courage to act as an astute and principled statesman.