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The Tea Party Movement is Finally Dying

Something big happened in the House of Representatives this week. Though the budget deal that passed on Thursday wasn't itself a major piece of legislation, it represents a major shift in partisan politics in Washington. Less than three months ago, House Republicans were willing to shut down the government rather than support something that Democrats also supported. But after they rightly took the brunt of the fallout over the shutdown, they've begun to realize that sometimes they need to pass laws even if it means they don't get everything they want. And the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is finally being recognized for what it is - too radical to be taken seriously.

On Thursday, 169 Republicans voted for the bipartisan budget deal to avoid another shutdown, despite demands from groups like FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action that they stand firm against any increases in spending. This effort to block a budget deal conservative enough that Paul Ryan could put his name on it was the last straw for John Boehner and many of his colleagues in the House.  At long last, the zealots are being marginalized.

In a delightful turn of events, John Boehner is calling the Tea Party out for extorting the Republican party: "Frankly, I think they're misleading their followers, I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be, and frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility." But it's not just John Boehner who's sick of them. According to a recent Gallup poll, the Tea Party's favorability ratings are the lowest they've been since Gallup began polling on them in 2010. And for the first time, their unfavorability rating climbed over 50 percent. The chart below says it all.

 

While the more centrist Republicans still stand for plenty of unsavory things, they're at least willing to compromise on occasion. According to the Washington Post, "Boehner gave voice to a growing feeling among congressional Republicans that their nominal allies at advocacy groups and think tanks have turned into puritanical partisans whose posture on many issues has undermined the GOP's standing on Capitol Hill." As a result, "instead of the dysfunction that dominated the year, House Republicans in recent weeks had hoped to better position themselves to negotiate deals with Senate Democrats by passing legislation that was not perfect in the most conservative eyes, but that advanced their cause" - or what is otherwise known as governing. But after years of brinkmanship, even these baby steps are welcome.

So while Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are going even farther right, it looks like the Republican Party may finally be moving in the other direction.  

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