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What do you call non-Tea Party Republicans?

The battle is on for Republican hearts and minds (and words).

"Tea Party" is designed to quickly reference both the firebrands who started the American Revolution in 1776 with perhaps a dash of anti-tax sentiment added.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Writing for National Journal, Beth Reinhard updates the developing effort by the kind of elements that we used to think of as the heart and soul of the Republican Party to recapture, well, the heart and soul of the Republican Party, or at least to get the party to nominate slightly more moderate Republicans. From her piece:

“Hopefully we’ll go into eight to 10 races and beat the snot out of them,” said former Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, whose new political group, Defending Main Street, aims to raise $8 million to fend off tea party challenges against more mainstream Republican incumbents. “We’re going to be very aggressive and we’re going to get in their faces.”

The terminology is fascinating, and here I’m not even talking about the word “snot.”

“Tea Party” is designed to quickly reference both the firebrands who started the American Revolution in 1776 (although the actual Boston Tea Party dates from 1773) with perhaps a dash of anti-tax sentiment added (unless I’m overanalyzing, but the original Tea Partiers were indeed tax protesters).

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So now LaTourette’s group will try to claim “Main Street” as the concept they are defending. That’s surely not a reference to Sinclair Lewis’ novel “Main Street,” which actually was a snide putdown of Main Street-ism, but perhaps it is intended to invoke the homely values and maybe the common sense of the mythical small businessmen whose stores lined the Main Streets of the revered small-town America back when everything was better.

Anyway, they surely chose well by not naming themselves “Defending Wall Street” (although just as surely some people who work in the New York financial district contribute to the effort to nudge control of Republicanism away from a group that argued that declining to raise the debt ceiling was no big deal).

We can call the Tea Party the Tea Party because most of its sympathizers happily embrace the term and, by now, the attentive public has a clue to that for which it stands. But we don’t have an instantly evocative term for the other wing of the Republican Party.

Here are a few of the stabs Reinhard took at labeling the non-Tea Party Republicans:

“Establishment Republicans,” “the center-right, business-oriented wing of the Republican Party,” “more mainstream Republicans,” “House Republicans who have drawn the wrath of the Club for Growth.”

The 30-second spots run by both sides in this struggle are going to be fascinating. Methinks Ronald Reagan’s famed “commandment” that “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican” will be sorely tested by the snot-beaters and their beatees.