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Der Tagesspiegel, Germany

Continuing the Fight Elsewhere

By Christoph von Marschall

Translated By Ron Argentati

8 December 2012

Edited by Rachel Smith

Germany - Der Tagesspiegel - Original Article (German)

He's one reason the Republicans lost the presidential election, but if there is one thing that conservative Senator Jim DeMint is not, it’s perceptive.

The tea party faction of the Republican Party is shell-shocked. In the middle of his term, Senate figurehead Jim DeMint gave up his seat – voluntarily. No one in Washington can think of any precedent of a senator not facing a sex or corruption scandal ever doing that. That said, DeMint isn't getting out of politics. He's taking over as head of the Republican think tank the Heritage Foundation. The 61-year-old South Carolinian archconservative says he's carrying on with the fight, just on a different battlefield.

Nevertheless, many Americans interpret the change as a result of the Republicans’ recent political defeat. The party is still arguing about who's to blame for their loss.

How could Obama be re-elected with the economy in shambles and a majority of citizens against his healthcare reforms? How could Republicans, who conquered the House of Representatives in 2010, fail to take over the Senate in 2012? Their chances had never been better.

Most Republicans blame their party's extreme right wing. Their ideological stubbornness alienated moderate voters when they rejected, on principle, any compromise with President Obama on the budget and debt reduction and clung to fanatical stances on issues like abortion. DeMint, along with other tea party figures, backed highly conservative candidates who never got much traction with voters. Their defeat cost the Republicans control of the Senate.

Five weeks after the election, the controversy has ended; only a minority believes the Republicans lost because they compromised their principles by putting forth too moderate a candidate. The majority wants the Republicans to be more tolerant and conciliatory. Under John Boehner's leadership, the House of Representatives is prepared to compromise with Obama in order to step back from the “fiscal cliff” and the threat of renewed recession. DeMint rejected Boehner's willingness to compromise with Obama and therefore had to go. Presumably the Heritage Foundation is also offering him a handsome salary. And besides, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have already shown that one doesn't need a big political mandate in order to wield power over the right wing. Media fame is quite enough.



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