Tea Party v. GOP establishment — civil war or family feud?

Rick Robinson Author, Writ of Mandamus
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With the holidays quickly approaching, family traditions start to fill our calendars.

Trips to the mall to deliver gift lists to Santa, digging decorations out of the basement and planning the family dinner are all about to become top priorities.

For my family, nothing matches our tradition of the annual viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  After both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we head over to my sister’s house and sit around watching the exploits of Clark Griswold as he tries to rekindle childhood memories by attempting to plan the perfect holiday gathering.

My kids have seen Christmas Vacation so many times, they know all of the lines.  My oldest sister backs up the DVD so often to re-watch her favorite scenes that watching the movie usually takes up the entire evening.

Christmas Vacation is such a great movie because so many of us have attended that family gathering, which eventually turned out to be a complete and total social disaster.

Tea Partiers as the angry uncle

Much is being written these days about the Tea Party’s entry into GOP politics and how “establishment Republicans” are reacting to them. Liberal pundits are calling the dust up an open “civil war.”  In reality, it’s more like dinner at the Griswold’s house.

Picture the establishment Republicans sitting, as they have for years, ready to devour the annual holiday feast. Meaningless but courteous talk encircles the table. No one asks why some family members are never invited.

Suddenly, in storms the Tea Party like the uninvited angry uncle with a drinking problem. Polite dinner conversations cease as he unearths family skeletons which have been long buried or ignored.

Initially, all avoid eye contact with Uncle Abe.  He’s pointing his finger and calling everyone bad names like RINO (although it is quite possible that he himself would not know a rhino if one actually stuck its horn up his butt).

After a while, some around the table decide to ignore the angry man. Others try to argue or reason with him. The in-laws disappear into the basement to watch football.

The night ends with nerves frayed, feelings hurt and all left to ponder those family secrets that make Uncle Abe mad to begin with. But you’re all family. This has happened before and it will likely happen again.

Time to get a divorce from Murkowski and Crist

The entry of Tea Party activists into Republican politics is not a declaration of civil war. It is a family feud.

For the establishment Republicans, the Tea Partiers are the uninvited guests who are forcing them to deal with the fact that the decisions they have made in the past may be part of the problem, not the solution. It’s up to the GOP family to work this out, and we do so via primary elections. Those are over now.

The candidates who are out running third-party or write-in campaigns are like the in-laws who have left the family table to go down in the basement to do their own thing. They may have the same last name, but they are not related by blood. And it shows when they flip off the family and head for the recliner in the rec room.

Candidates like Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and Charlie Crist in Florida turn out to be interlopers into the GOP.  They are the in-laws who have married into the family for the prestige of the family name, but then refuse to abide by family decisions.

Arrogant politicians who value their own opinions more than their constituents’ are the ones who got the Tea Partiers riled up in the first place.

The voters need to explain to Murkowski and Crist that the decisions made at the family table, like ’em or not, are final. If they are going to get up and leave the table whenever the discussion doesn’t suit them, they aren’t really part of the family.  Maybe they are not the kind of people we thought, or hoped, they were. If the relationship ends in divorce, well, worse things have happened.

Murkowski and Crist, as a result of their own self-interested conduct, are no longer welcome at the family table.  Just in time for the holidays, let’s send them on a permanent vacation.

Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.