From the Right
Republicans: Don’t lose the war
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 01:10
We’ve lost the battle and we’re already losing the war.
The 2014 midterms are 13 months away and Democrats are readying their catapults to unleash a volley of attacks onto all Republicans. “They’re obstructionists.” “They’re stopping the economic recovery.” “They want to undermine and destroy government.” “They’re an embarrassment to America.” These accusations are only a sample of the attacks they’ll launch. In their eyes, they’ve already won. The recent government shutdown exposed a chink in the Republican armor and it is one that has divided the GOP, causing a split between two factions. The more traditional Republican image is John Boehner, and the Tea Party is that of Ted Cruz. These factions are not healthy for the party in the short term and most definitely not healthy for the party in the long term. The further the divide goes on, the more the Democrats win, assuring them victories in 2014 and, ultimately, 2016.
So let the shutdown debacle be a wake up to all Republicans alike. It’s time to stop fighting each other and start working together, united, not divided.
The divide in the Republican Party is nothing new, and frankly, it’s been ongoing for years. The two wings butted heads ad nauseam over the decades, beginning with the clash between the more moderate Dwight Eisenhower and the more conservative Robert Taft in 1952. Then it was the convention drama of 1964 between Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, and finally, the grand-daddy of political primaries, the bitter nomination fight between incumbent President Gerald Ford and challenger Gov. Ronald Reagan. The moderate/establishment wing of the party and the grassroots/tea party wing of the party continually clash and, at times, have led to a split in the party that plunders our chances and lifts the Democrats over the finish line.
Unfortunately, party infighting isn’t going to stop and in many ways it shouldn’t. A robust debate is important from time to time, especially to remind a party of its values and principles. After two losses at the presidential level, the party needs some long overdo soul searching. The Democrats endured it throughout the ‘80s when Reagan was in office, and now so can the Republicans in the Obama reign. However, what must cease at all cost is this center stage infighting that perpetuates the image to the Democrats, to the media and to the country that the party is tearing itself apart in a bitter civil war. At the moment, the narrative is a Republican party exposed, crumbling and beaten, in part thanks to our own doing for making the squabbles front and center. Now, there is no doubt that the different wings of the Democratic Party engage in a fierce battle of ideas; the one difference is that they don’t air their dirty laundry for all the world to see. I hardly ever advocate taking a page from the Democrat’s playbook, but in this instance, the GOP could learn a thing or two from the Democrats.
As someone who is active in the Republican Party, I see these shenanigans being played out in Washington, D.C., as frustrating. Not only is the GOP brand tainted, but all Republicans are now painted the same with the swoosh of one large brush. Now, I’ll admit I am not a firebrand Republican; it’s just not in my nature, but my position does not make me any more or any less of a Republican. Members of a party can disagree. Take John McCain and Ted Cruz as the prime examples of the party’s ongoing disputes, the former as the more moderate Republican and the latter as the more conservative. What must stop at all costs is this idea of “out-Republicaning” each other. Cruz is no more a Republican than McCain and McCain is no less a Republican than Cruz. They may disagree on tactics and on some policies, but at the end of the day, they are Republicans because they believe in the conservative message of limited government.
Sure, there are those who denounce McCain as an unworthy Republican who is better suited in the Democratic Party. And there are those who decry Cruz as destroying the Republican Party and driving it further right. Both attacks must cease because they are detrimental to the party’s electability and longevity as a national party. Both factions must coexist, and coexist with the understanding that a divided party will never win another presidential election again – ever.
Let me be direct: A litmus tests is not a tool for the Republicans’ success. Currently, the country still finds itself with a struggling economy and a government mired in gridlock and hampered down with debt. Now is a perfect time for the Republican Party to reassert itself to America as the party that will honor the trust of the American people and, to put it bluntly, fix the mess we’re stuck in. In order to accomplish this task of winning the argument – and the hearts and minds of America – the GOP must save itself first. For what other option is there without a choice?
The Republican Party must be united, a big tent party that is wide enough to encompass all views and all people. In the past it appears that the party has abandoned the big tent or favored a smaller one, only open to a few and not the many. This must change and it must change soon. 2014 is around the corner and 2016 is starting to peek in the horizon.