Primary Challenges to GOP Leaders Say a Lot About the State of the Party
Posted on May 19, 2014
Originally Published in the WSJ
Leadership is hard, especially in the U.S. Congress and especially if you are a Republican.
House Speaker John Boehner easily survived his primary last week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is likely to survive his primary on Tuesday. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor should be able to handle his Republican opponent next month.
But the fact that all three have had to spend their time and resources battling primary opposition says a lot about the state of the party.
Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Cantor are all very conservative in the traditional understanding of conservative politics. All are pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-spending. And all are proponents of a much smaller government than we have today.
But they aren’t fanatics, and because they are the ones who have to make final decisions on legislative strategy, their lack of fanaticism has proven to be a liability to some Republican primary voters.
That, however, is the price of leadership. You have to make the tough calls, and you can’t make everybody happy, especially in this political environment.
Making some fanatics unhappy seems a small price to pay to gain a governing majority in Congress.