Syria, budget debates expose Republican Party divide

Boehner, Cantor
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), right, walked to a capitol press conference with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in 2012.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

During the Syria debate on Capitol Hill, libertarians and the Republican establishment showcased a simmering divide in the GOP.

As longtime Republicans stood up to support President Barack Obama's plan for a military strike in Syria, many of the new libertarian and Tea Party members were quick to speak out against it.

Syria is not the only issue that has shown a crack in the party. As Congress continues to work through the budget, the public may notice a few more differences surfacing in the GOP.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia are in for a sticky battle within their own party as Tea Party members call for a government shutdown if Obamacare isn't defunded this year.

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From National Review:

This delicate political situation has forced Boehner and Cantor to work against the shutdown caucus but without antagonizing it. It's a wink-wink kabuki dance of the highest order. They can't alienate their conservative members who have been enthralled by the shutdown talk of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, but they can't have them dictating the fiscal negotiations, either. "Look, we want to protect the American people from Obamacare, and we'll look at any realistic strategy to do that," says a leadership aide. "Right now, though, no one seems to be able to explain how we win a shutdown fight. Until that changes, it doesn't make any sense to have one."

But those on the fringes of the party still believe their views need to lead the future of the GOP platform in order for the party to survive.

From NPR:

Today, majorities of Americans want to lower the debt, allow gay marriage and legalize marijuana. Those are not all traditional Republican values. But they are all libertarian ones.

[In March], the GOP released a scathing review of what went wrong for the party in the 2012 election. One conclusion was that Republicans need to expand the tent on social issues.

"They are saying we're losing young voters, we're losing a lot of independents, we're losing suburban women," says David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "And a lot of it is because, as the report said, we are perceived as out of touch and narrow-minded."

On The Daily Circuit, we look at the Republican split and what it means for the party's future. On Wednesday, we'll look at the state of the Democratic Party.


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Lamar Alexander: I stay true to my conservative ideals
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Bad Bet: Why Republicans Can't Win With Whites Alone
Republicans now reliably run better among whites without a college education than those with at least a four-year degree. In 1984, those noncollege whites represented 62 percent of the total vote, while college-educated whites constituted just 27 percent. That meant working-class whites represented more than two-thirds of all white voters. But since then, according to the exit polls, the share of the vote cast by those working-class whites has declined in every election except 2000, hitting a low of 36 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, the share of college-educated whites grew through the 1990s and has fluctuated in a narrow range since. In 2012, the exit poll found, college-educated whites also cast 36 percent of the vote, marking the first time they have equaled working-class whites. (National Journal)