Why the IRS scandal might be a good thing for Democrats
A scandal for the political party in power is almost always bad news. This time could be different for the Democrats, though, because of the force with which President Barack Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill have responded.
Internal Revenue Service workers inappropriately targeted conservative groups who sought to be tax-exempt, particularly those with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in the name. The agency failed to do the same with liberal groups.
Certainly it does not produce good headlines for the White House, but it appears Obama has not been complicit in the enhanced scrutiny for the right-leaning groups. He condemned the IRS’s practices, calling them “outrageous” at a Monday press conference. The Department of Justice opened up a criminal investigation on Tuesday.
These developments have tea party groups and their supporters up in arms. While the movement’s momentum may have largely subsided, this matter could energize stalwarts and spark a new wave of tea party candidates.
This could be a blessing for Democrats. Real Clear Politics shows the party currently leads Republicans by slightly more than three points in a generic congressional vote. Even the conservative polling firm Rasmussen shows a two-point lead for the blue crew. Plus, the tea party’s public image needs a makeover.
Perhaps the most recent numbers, a January Rasmussen poll showed only 8 percent of Americans identify themselves as members of this political movement. While a revival may not necessarily bring as strong a surge as in 2010, it’s still not something Republicans should embrace given the lackluster image of the group.
Conservative activists have nominated several questionable candidates that arguably cost the Republican Party several seats in both the 2010 and 2012 elections, think Sharon Angle in Nevada and Todd Akin in Missouri.
Whether or not anything comes of the Department of Justice’s investigation, Democrats, and particularly those in the Obama administration, can point to this inquiry as proof they have no tolerance for such actions.
The Republican Party might face a conundrum — if no one disagrees with you, who will you fight with?
— Andrew Hedlund, Medill News Service