Let’s not be fooled that the 2010 midterm election was a preview of the rise of the Republican Party. As we’ve all witnessed the Republican primary season taking numerous twists and turns, they still have a few problems. These include but are not limited to, the decline of the Tea Party, the current leadership within the Republican National Committee, and conflicting groups of Republicans, in terms of ideology.
Since the Tea Party came into the political scene many people has said that they would help boost the Republican Party, a vehicle if you will. The Tea Party can say they accomplished goals by getting certain candidates elected into office. Rand Paul is one of those “Tea Party elected officials”. During his campaign in Kentucky, he was specifically charming the Tea Party groups and during his campaign he mentioned that he would uphold “Tea Party ideals”. As soon he was elected and went to Washington D.C., he quickly turned a 180 and said that he did not advocate or endorse what the Tea Party says, and he wasn’t the only politician to leave to movement out to dry.
The fact is, the Tea Party is not a saving force for the Republican Party. The Tea Party is another example of how divided the Republican Party really is. Just as an example of the difference (to be expanded upon in a future article), Progressive Democrats have said for years they are the vehicle for the Democratic Party. They have worked for various Democratic candidates, and most Progressive Democrats will say they got their candidate, President Obama, elected into office. If the Tea Party wants to get candidates elected, and put forth their policies, then they should try to become a political party themselves rather than a political arm of the Republican Party. I would like to see the Tea Party go through the motions of becoming a political party in their respective states. In Illinois, a political party is deemed “established” when their gubernatorial candidate receives 5% of the general election vote. Otherwise, a person needs to get 25,000 signature since they are a “new party”.
The GOP leadership has also been a challenge for the party. The Republican National Committee (RNC) had a term with Michael Steele, where he put the party on the forefront not because of his political strategy but rather for his own personality. Their current chair, Reince Priebus, is not doing a much better job. The only reason Mr. Priebus was elected as the new chair, was because of the Republican wave of victories that took place in Wisconsin during the 2010 election. Priebus was the GOP State Chair at that time; however the success in Wisconsin does not equate a successful “takeover” for the party during the 2012 election.
Instead the GOP is diverging from one another, in sometimes conflicting directions. As the Republican Party branches out into isolating groups, what are they? Who are the major players? Here is a list:
This group is about proactive foreign policy, yet at the same time distrust international institutions. They also favor big business. Those involved are: former President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Irving Kristol.
National Greatness Conservatives
This group goes beyond the NeoCons in that they assert the need to have an “appeal to America’s Greatness”; such as the war of terrorism. High profile Republicans that fill this category would be Senator John McCain, David Brooks, and Bill Kristol.
Traditional Values Conservatives
They are concerned with their perception of the decline of social morals and the breakdown of the “institution of family”. Sarah Palin, Peggy Noonan, and former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett are traditional values conservatives.
As the name suggests their focus is on religion, and tend to look at social issues from that lens. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Gov. Sam Brownback, and Rev. Pat Robertson would be involved in this group.
They tend to favor smaller government, and little bit more liberal on social issues like legalizing marijuana. Dr. Ron Paul and 2008 Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr are involved in this group.
Named after the conservative intellectual William Buckley, this group is more of the “reality check” group. Meaning, those that fall into this group tend to be involved with other conservative groups and can thus bring people back together. In my opinion, Gov. Mitt Romney and columnist Rich Lowry would be most visible of Buckleyites right now.
Sometimes knowns as RINOs (Republicans in name only) have more of a historical context to them. They come from the likes of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, pretty much pre-Goldwater. Former Senator Arlen Specter and General Colin Powell would be modern examples.
We have seen this group from time to time where they have preached on the issues of illegal immigrants, have high tariffs to protect American jobs. Pat Buchanan and the late Robert Novak would be in this group.
Why did I provide this lengthy list? To display the complexity the Republican Party has gotten themselves into with the primary situation. The one conservative whom I admire, also the most civil within the conservative movement, was William Buckley. Buckley played a huge role within the conservative movement and helped the Republican Party for nearly 40 years. What Buckley did in the 1950’s, was to bring all the conservative leaders to the table and design a plan to win elections. Republicans won local and state races from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. By the 1980’s, Buckley and other conservatives elected Ronald Reagan as President for two terms, which carried into George H.W. Bush’s election.
So who do these group play into the current Republican presidential campaign? With the current candidates for the Republican nomination you have Mitt Romney, Buckleylite; Rick Santorum, Traditional Values Conservative, Newt Gingrich, National Greatness Conservative, and Ron Paul, Libertarian. It also speaks to the fact these candidates also need to speak to their conservative electorate too, but can Romney speak to the Independents? How do Libertarians feel about Gingrich? Are the Evangelicals going to give their blessing to Santorum? Will the NeoCons look up to Paul?
As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I think the Republicans should look more at the past to see where they are at in the present.