The Proper Role of the Republican Party
In all of the kerfuffle of the ill-considered way that Donald Trump assailed John McCain this past week, what has been lost is the great divide within the Republican Party- a divide which has cost them five presidential elections in the last forty years (’76, ’92 ‘96, ’08, ’12) and control of both houses of Congress during much of this time. Unlike the Democrats who are always, ALWAYS united during presidential elections, Republicans have not been so united since the re-election of Ronald Reagan in 1988- and that election was the first time Democrats confronted a truly unified Republican Party since Dwight Eisenhower ran for re-election in 1956.
In looking at the divide within the GOP, a broad generalization would find that this divide exists between the GOP moderates (a.k.a. the Establishment Republicans), as personified by Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon , Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, etc. and GOP conservatives, as personified by Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Trey Gowdy, Jason Chavitz, etc. (For the purposes of this discussion we have omitted any of the now sixteen candidates running for the 2016 Republican Nomination).
While Democrats have a pre-disposition to rally around their party’s nominee, be they moderately liberal or extremely liberal, Republicans have a unfortunate tendency to hold out for the “right” candidate, meaning that moderate Republicans refuse to support conservative Republicans, and conservative Republicans refuse to support moderate Republicans- all of which more than delights their Democrat adversaries, as well as the de facto running mates of Democrat nominees, also commonly known as the mainstream media.
Conservative Republicans find this tendency most distasteful, for the simple reason that it allows Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media to fracture what would otherwise be a united Republican front. It also allows the Democrats and their mainstream media allies to paint ALL Republicans as right wing extremists, regardless of whether they are moderate or conservative. One look at the past ten presidential elections, and all ten of the Republican nominees were labeled as “extreme” even though, in reality, only one of them has been a true conservative (Reagan) and the other has been a semi-conservative (George W. Bush). What is the message? Regardless of who the Republicans nominate in 2016, that person will quickly find himself/herself so labeled as a right-wing extremist, regardless of their position on any issue, for the simple reason that it will be a signal to all of the identity constituencies- blacks, Latinos, gays, pro-abortionists, union members, and those on the dole- to queue up and vote for the same Democratic politicians who have managed to keep them in the fold, and in the harness, since the 1940s. It’s not that conservative Republicans, in particular, have ignored any of these specific constituencies, but rather they have, in fact, offered non-governmental alternatives to those governmental solutions, which the Democrats are so famous for offering…
The folly of moderate Republicans is that they have an unfortunate tendency to imitate, if not duplicate, the programs and platforms of the Democrat Party…which begs the question “why have two parties if they are the same?”
This is precisely what far-too-many Republicans, especially establishment Republicans, have failed to grasp- especially when they find that the keys to the White House are in possession of their Democratic opponents. In their efforts to be comparatively bi-partisan, the “go-along, get-along” cabal of establishment Republicans have ceded far-too-much ground in the over-arching political debate, even before the “battle” is joined. If the Republican Party is ever going to “get back in the game”, as it were, they must differentiate themselves from the Democrats, and stop trying to imitate, much less duplicate, the Democrat Party’s platform positions. Otherwise, all one is left with effectively, is a one-party state not unlike that which exists in Russia.
It is indeed unfortunate that the resultant graying of lines between supposed-conservatives and liberals have left this country a bickering, albeit sickening, mass of gelatin between two parties that, in the final analysis, are almost identical in their pursuit of ever-expansive government and political stasis. What this country needs, really, is a true election between two distinct political philosophies, i.e. a contest, say, between a Bernie Sanders and a Ted Cruz, so that this country at long last can settle the abiding issue of what type of country it wants to be…a socialist country which provides all things to all people, like the ones we would find in Europe, or a free-market economic powerhouse that would elevate all people to their fullest potential with the inherent virtues of self-sufficiency, individual liberty, and the unfettered pursuit of happiness and prosperity that once made this country the envy of the world.
Yet, if this election turns out to be, as the pundits would have us believe, a contest between Hillary and Jeb, the can will once again be kicked down the proverbial path of pathetic posturing that sees the greatness of this country slip further and further into the dustbin of history. So, while we argue as to whether or not “the Donald” owes an apology for his inartfully-stated characterization of Senator McCain, let us resolve to keep our eyes on the prize of national renewal and the destiny of this nation that, in the last seven years, has lost its way.
-Drew Nickell, 21 July 2015
© 2015 by Drew Nickell, all rights reserved