News / USA

    Republicans Counting on Energized US Conservatives for November Election

    In U.S. politics, 2010 is shaping up to be a good year to be a conservative.  Poll ratings for President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are down, and opposition Republicans are hoping that energized conservatives will carry the party to victory in the November congressional elections.  But the conservative movement is not monolithic.

    Grass roots conservatives were early and vocal opponents of President Obama's health care reform plan.  That grass roots anger against big government evolved into what is known as the tea party movement, a loosely-organized nationwide activist group that was inspired by the anti-tax tea protests just prior to the American Revolution.

    Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the featured speaker at a national tea party convention last month.

    "The tea party movement is not a top-down operation," said Sarah Palin. "It is a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way that they are doing business, and that is beautiful!"

    Republicans hope to benefit from the tea party activists in this November's congressional midterm elections.  In addition, Republicans who are considering a run for president in 2012 are also busy trying to line up supporters among various conservative groups including the tea party activists and religious conservatives.

    Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is a potential presidential contender who spoke at a recent meeting of conservative activists in Washington.

    "God is in charge.  God is in charge," said Tim Pawlenty. "It says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights.  It does not say we are endowed by Washington, D.C., or endowed by the bureaucrats or endowed by state government.  It is by our creator that we are given these rights!"

    Christian conservative voters were important in the election victories of former President George W. Bush, but they showed less enthusiasm for Republican candidate John McCain in 2008.

    Although there is some overlap, tea party activists are most concerned with the role of the federal government, while religious conservatives are focused on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

    All of these various voting blocs will have to be energized this year if Republicans are to realize their goal of taking back control of Congress.

    Many Republicans acknowledge the party's image suffered during the George W. Bush presidential years when congressional Republicans failed to follow through on conservative principles like cutting back on government spending.

    This is Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia:

    "We understand the country is fed up with the Democrats, but is not confident yet that we as Republicans will be any better," said Eric Cantor. "The people need to see our commitment to enact a reform agenda."

    Conservative Republicans have led the charge against President Obama's health care reform plan by depicting it as a massive government takeover of the health-care industry.

    The president and his Democratic allies in Congress have repeatedly accused Republicans of distorting the plan and playing on American's fears of big government.

    Mr. Obama complained directly during a meeting with House Republican members in January.

    "But if you were to listen to the debate and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you would think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot," said President Obama. "No, I mean, that is how you guys, how you guys presented it."

    Conservatives see their path back to power as principled opposition to the president on health care and other issues involving the role of government, like climate change legislation.

    Public-opinion polls suggest Republicans have an edge in intensity this year as the elections approach, and the growth of the tea party movement is likely to play a role.

    But the overall conservative movement is not monolithic, says University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato.

    "The Republicans are very conflicted," said Larry Sabato. "They are fighting among themselves.  They are battling with the Tea Party activists and they are battling with some of their own base, which is more conservative than the congressional leadership.  Fortunately for the Republicans, they have President Obama as their target.  That will tend to unite their base, at least for this midterm election."

    Tea party activists plan to support a number of challengers in Republican primaries this year, including some candidates who are running against some well known names.  Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who is running for the Senate, both face strong challenges from conservatives.

    This is Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown:

    "It is not clear how influential this tea bag movement will be in the Republican Party," said Peter Brown. "It makes good headlines and the media loves it.  But it is not clear whether they will be a destructive force within the Republican Party or they will be a helpful force for the Republican Party.  We will find that out when we start seeing election results next November and in November of 2012."

    Most political experts believe Republicans will gain congressional seats in November, and perhaps enough to take back control of one or both chambers of Congress.   


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora