It’s a timeless maxim of politics: Holding power masks a party’s internal divisions and conflicts. It’s a lesson that Republicans learned all too well during the Obama administration, with restless tea-party activists challenging the sclerotic party establishment—capped by several high-profile members falling in primaries to unlikely insurgents. And it’s a lesson that Democrats are learning all too painfully now, as the party is splintering, with progressive officials (such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Keith Ellison) urging the party to move even further left, while more-pragmatic voices (such as Tim Ryan) beg the party to retool its message so it can better appeal to working-class whites.
What’s remarkable is that the establishment-vs.-tea-party fights that divided the GOP for the past seven years have dissipated since the polarizing Donald Trump was elected president. Even intransigent conservative members are inclined to fall in line behind the president-elect. The Freedom Caucus, which routinely held establishment Republicans to task for compromising conservative principles, now sounds willing to embrace Trump’s big-spending proposals for infrastructure. After threatening Paul Ryan with a leadership challenge before the election, Freedom Caucus members quickly rallied behind the House speaker after Trump’s victory. The populist energy they channeled when out of power is now in Trump’s hands, and if they challenged the president-elect, it would turn against them.
Consider Sen. Orrin Hatch’s renewed interest in seeking reelection. Conservative groups tried to challenge Hatch in the 2012 primary, and to placate the opposition, he suggested that he would retire at the end of his term. Now, Hatch is specifically citing Trump’s victory as reason why he should seek an eighth term in office.
And it’s not just Hatch. Ted Cruz can breathe easier. Rep. Mike McCaul, who considered challenging him in a primary, is now focused on the possibility of joining the Trump cabinet. Sen. Bob Corker, as establishment as Republicans come, has gotten a political boost back home in Tennessee after being mentioned as a possible secretary of State.
Democrats will now be experiencing the intraparty hostility that dogged Republicans. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi received an early warning sign when 63 of her colleagues voted against her in a surprisingly competitive leadership fight against Tim Ryan. The battle for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship is already divisive, with the early front-runner (Ellison) turning off Jewish groups and some labor unions with his far-left record.
This article continues at [National Journal] Republican Divisions Dissipate Now That They’re In Charge