Parties—particularly those with large majorities—almost inevitably split into factions. And congressional history is replete with examples of groups that balked at party leadership. But the insurgents we remember—the ones who weren’t quickly and completely marginalized—managed by and large to find common cause with members of the other party. Southern Democrats, for instance, forged a “conservative coalition” with Republicans that dominated Congress for much of the 20th century.
There hasn’t been a bloc like the Freedom Caucus for at least a century, one that refuses to work with its own party leadership while being steadfastly unwilling to reach across the aisle. “There have been groups that often broke from the party, but in doing so, they didn’t stand as a third force,” says former GOP Rep. Mickey Edwards. “This group is very different.”