Mainstream Republicans have “openly declared war” on the grass-roots movement within their party, leading to a split within the party not seen in decades, congressional candidate Dan Bongino said.
Bongino, who’s seeking the Republican nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, lashed out at party leaders for several actions in recent weeks that Bongino said show a lack of concern for members of the party such as him.
“I am serving you with divorce papers,” Bongino wrote in a Dec. 12 post on his Facebook page. He took unnamed party members to task for allegedly compromising the party’s principles.
“As for the GOP, we used to stand for something: a lean, effective government, vibrant and robust individual liberty, and a passionate defense of the value of hard work and a commensurate respect for your wages by consistently fighting for your right to keep more of them,” Bongino wrote.
The post came on the same day that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) lashed out at conservative groups who had been critical of the bipartisan budget deal negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
“Frankly, I just think they’ve lost all credibility,” Boehner told reporters, accusing the groups of “using” Republican lawmakers, according to The Washington Post.
Bongino said on Dec. 18 that the post was not specifically in response to Boehner’s statement, but was inspired by a series of actions by leading Republicans including the recent firing of Paul Teller, executive director of the Republican Study Group, a group of conservative lawmakers.
Teller was a friend to many libertarians, Bongino said.
“America’s best days are ahead and you and your fellow insiders and cronyists and ‘Party before country’ loyalists, on both sides of the aisle, can bathe in your titles and power now but understand that I, and many others, have dedicated our lives to draining the dirty water from the bathtub,” Bongino wrote.
He said Thursday that the post was written more out of frustration than anger, but criticized what he called the “crony insider” wing of the party he said was made up of elected officials who are more interested in making side deals than supporting the libertarian and grass-roots wing of the party.
While he declined to name specific politicians or officials he would place in that category, Bongino also talked about a fight between the “Rove wing” of the party and the grass roots often associated with the tea party and other groups.
In a September opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove criticized what he called an “ill-conceived” effort by some conservative lawmakers to shut down the federal government in an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Intraparty squabbling is not new and not unique to the Republican Party, Bongino said.
He compared the current situation to the split within the party in the 1970s between supporters of President Gerald Ford and future President Ronald Reagan, in which much of the party establishment supported Ford while grass-roots conservatives fell in behind Reagan.
Meanwhile, the Republican outsiders have learned how to bypass the party’s traditional fundraising apparatus by using email lists, social media and lists of supporters they’ve accumulated themselves, he said.
He said Maryland has a lot of moderate Democrats who are frustrated with the state, and the Republican establishment’s actions are hurting efforts to attract them because people don’t see a lot of difference between the two parties.
“For those who say this fight is hurting the Republican ‘brand’ I reply; it is those on both sides of the aisle who have betrayed their principles in the name of Party, that have destroyed their ‘brands,’” Bongino wrote in his Facebook post.