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The Splintered Republican Party

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Since last summer the Republican Party has been splintered so it should come as no surprise when Super Tuesday is more of the same. There are three reasons why:

First, Mitt Romney has not been able to put forth a clear, consistent explanation of his past, including an illicit affair with centrist policies, that appeases the furthest right of the Republican Party. This has sent Tea Partiers searching, in vain, for the true conservative, leading us to to the second reason:

Politicians, for the most part, are not principled in the way this new group of conservatives would like them to be. Tea Partiers are idealists, they want someone who is willing to take principled stands on issues important to them and will not compromise. What Tea Partiers are realizing is that no politician meets their expectations. Politicians have to cut deals and make compromises, not just to get things done, but to stay in office. No one likes to admit it, but Rick Santorum was right about politics being a team sport. In a representative system of government, with three separate branches at the national level, cooperation is needed from many people who have competing interests, making compromise necessary. The only way to avoid compromise is to change the system into some sort of autocratic rule or to insure that all those in office have the same interests. The first solution is as undesirable as the second is unrealistic.

There is one Republican candidate who does not play well with others, and rejects compromising his values, but Ron Paul can’t get the support he needs to win the nomination because he is unwilling to sacrifice his ideals for political expediency, which is ironic to be sure. Ron Paul offers a message of limited government and individual liberty as each is defined by his reading of the Constitution. The Republican base loves his ideas on the economy and taxes, but they object to his non-interventionist foreign policy stances. If liberty is a fundamental human right then, as Paul claims, the U.S. has no business fighting the wars we are fighting. But Republicans are hawks and their hawkishness is inconsistent with their domestic outlook, which makes it impossible for them to rally around Paul.

The case of Ron Paul illustrates the third reason Republicans are splintered. Their policy positions are inherently contradictory; there is no consensus among Republican voters about what ideals the GOP stands for. If they are for limited government and individual liberty then they cannot be in favor of military interventionism or restrictions on homosexuals. If they are for traditional family values and American exceptionalism then they must recognize and admit they are not a party that values liberty above all else. Until the GOP can decide on a single, coherent, and ideologically consistent message it will continue to be splintered.

So, in the short term, if the Republicans are to win the White House, Republican voters must give up their idealism and get real. Idealism breeds contempt for the available choices, which will force low Republican turnout in the general election, regardless of the nominee. Republican voters need to fall in line behind a single nominee, even if it’s not until the convention. In the long term, they need to figure out what it is they really stand for so they know exactly what it is they are looking for in a nominee the next time around.

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About Kyle Scott

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Spot-on assessment, Kyle.

    The dichotomy we see in the Republican Party is really just a manifestation of human nature. Minimal government intrusion into citizens’ lives and low taxes sound great – until something happens that you don’t like and want stopped.

    Paul is unique in that he doesn’t allow his personal principles to intrude on his public duties. Sadly, this doesn’t make him a very good politician.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kyle –

    Excellent article. I would add one more factor that I suspect you may have purposely left out because the issue would have detracted from the rest of the article: race. I must give the GOP credit that there are many among them who are honestly trying to be as colorblind as they can – but there’s still a [largely Southern] bloc that is still quite racist.

    Again, I don’t want to detract from the accurate thrust of your article. Quite the opposite; if the current crop of Republicans were a bit more eager about compromise, about being willing to accept positions that weren’t as comfortable as they’d like for the sake of progress, maybe they’d find that such a new attitude would help them with the changing face of the American electorate.

  • Clavos

    …maybe they’d find that such a new attitude would help them with the changing face of the American electorate.

    Or maybe not.

    Either way, the GOP seems to be doing OK with the electorate (even the “American” one), so I would say they would be ill advised to change their strategy at this point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Indeed, a very accurate assessment of the GOP.

  • Igor

    The GOP made a Faustian deal when they embraced the Tea Party, for two reasons: (1) they granted unwarranted power to the Koch empire, and (2) they embraced crazy extremists with radical simplified ideas of society and government.

    The TP people are of the same cloth as the Nazis, who thought that all they had to do was kill all the jews, and the Commies, who thought all they had to do was kill all the bourgeoisie. Despite all the horrible results by each type of mania, resulting in bloodletting and genocide, it doesn’t work. It can’t work. It never has worked. And it never will work.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m looking forward to a thoughtful conservative’s response to Igor’s patent indictment.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “the GOP seems to be doing OK with the electorate…”

    as it gets older and older and whiter and whiter in a younger and browner country, it might want to start thinking about the future.

  • Igor

    3-Clavos demonstrates remarkable blindness:

    “Either way, the GOP seems to be doing OK with the electorate…”

    By the persistent application of ‘triangulation’ to separate various minorities from the Republican party, they are gradually cutting their own throats.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    zing, Igor

    Both of you seem to have missed Clavos’s point. Perhaps the point isn’t about the GOP doing well in the upcoming election but about responding to the prevailing sentiment of a sizable electorate — dissatisfaction with statism.

    And who knows? Since it’s becoming a popular sentiment, it could well translate to good results at the polls.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Typically, Igor is a fly-by-night, a drive-by commenter. He’s been known to shower us with his pearls of wisdom, but he’s like the proverbial thief in the night, never around when it comes to facing the static.

    Way to go, Igor! I sure hope you get some satisfaction making your droppings.

    But to each his own, as they say. Personally, I wouldn’t bother to comment just for the hell of commenting, without the expectation of being responded to.

    But as I said, to each his own. Whatever works.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Typically, Igor is a fly-by-night, a drive-by commenter.

    As contrasted with your own engaged, incisive comments on articles you don’t even bother to read, eh, Rog?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    as it gets older and older and whiter and whiter in a younger and browner country, it might want to start thinking about the future.

    It already is. By doing nothing to counter apathy among young voters and by introducing more and more restrictive voting laws in the states it controls, it’s maintaining a breathable level of redness in a shrivelled electorate.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Have I ruffled your feathers, Dreadful?

    It certainly seems like I have.

    And what exactly are the articles I’m supposed to read and haven’t?

    Could you enlighten me on this one, you all-seeing and all-knowing maharajah?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    the GOP seems to be doing OK with the electorate

    …and the cow jumped over the moon.

    Clavos, next to your perpetual AGW-denial, your statement is about the most short-sighted statement I’ve ever seen you make – and it’s one that is 180-off of what most polls are showing. Yes, I know, you don’t pay attention to polls, but this coming election I think you’re going to see how the independent voters react to the fact that in over two dozen states, the elected GOP majorities enacted a variety of laws, everything from anti-abortion laws to voter suppression laws to anti-illegal-immigrant laws that affect legal immigrants nearly as much as illegals.

    In Missouri the Congress just passed a bill outlawing discrimination against gun owners – in a state where discrimination against LGBT’s is still rampant. Talk about ‘small government’! And then there’s the beating of war drums by the GOP candidates….

    And none of these were in the interest of the “jobs jobs jobs” agenda the Republicans ran on in 2010. America’s independent voters have seen what “we love small government” Republicans do when they have power…and they’re not going to forget it in November.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Roger, you admitted yourself that you hadn’t read Warren’s article, you twit.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Glenn, the GOP is actually doing surprisingly well according to a lot of recent polls. Admittedly they’re not going to sweep all before them as they did two years ago, but they are going to at least reduce Obama’s electoral college majority, and they stand a good chance of gaining control of the Senate.

    Yes, this is partly because the Democrats seem determined to keep shooting themselves in both feet until they haven’t got any toes left. (So much for the left being anti-gun… :-) )

    And yes, the GOP is being fatally short-sighted. But those chickens aren’t going to come home to roost in this election, and probably won’t for a few more cycles yet, which gives them a chance to realize what side of the Pearly Gates they’re actually still on and redeem themselves.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Speaking of the electorate, Clavos, here’s what a Republican politician said that she thought about the upcoming election:

    SAYWARD: I do not have a favorite in the presidential race, if I had to vote today, I’d vote for Obama.
    INTERVIEW: Really?
    SAYWARD: Absolutely… Because I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades.

    You do realize, of course, that over half the electorate are women, right? Then there’s the 98 advertisers who just informed a major radio network that they are deserting not just Rush, but a whole raft of conservative hate-mongering talk-show hosts:

    When it comes to advertisers avoiding controversial shows, it’s not just Rush From today’s TRI Newsletter: Premiere Networks is circulating a list of 98 advertisers who want to avoid “environments likely to stir negative sentiments.” The list includes carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm) and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway). As you’ll see in the note below, those “environments” go beyond the Rush Limbaugh show
    “To all Traffic Managers: The information below applies to your Premiere Radio Networks commercial inventory…They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).’

    Which explains the following:

    …of the 86 ads that made it on the air [during Limbaugh’s show] today, 77 of them were free public service announcements donated by the Ad Council. An additional seven ads were from companies that are in the process of pulling their spots from the show, leaving just two ads during the entire three hour broadcast that were purposefully paid to appear during the program.

    A couple days ago, the media was saying that Limbaugh’s having a “Don Imus moment”. Frankly, I think much of the GOP is about to have that “Don Imus moment”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

    And yes, I’ve read Warren’s article as well, both of e’m in fact, so what the fuck is next in your inscrutable, maharajah mind?

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Perhaps. We’ll see come November…and my very own prediction is that Obama will exceed his 2008 electoral count. I don’t think we’ll retake the House, and we will lose some ground in the Senate, but – barring real tragedy – Obama’s going to better his 2008 score.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    And yes, I’ve read Warren’s article as well, both of e’m in fact

    Then you must have done so after you posted comment # 9 on part one of his “Double Standard”, in which you declared:

    “I don’t read Warren, Dreadful, and I don’t think I’m missing anything.”

    Is it any wonder you have difficulty getting people to take you seriously around here?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Of course I don’t read Warren, Dreadful, meaning, “I don’t read him seriously.”

    What’s so fucking hard to understand.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I wish you would step back and remember what you were like four years ago, and ask yourself if the person you were would have written comments like #17 and #20. You were a better man then…and you can be again. But you’re going to have to dig yourself out of the emotional hole you’re in.

    I know how you’ll react to those words, how you’ll viciously reject words meant to help you…but those words still need to be said. It won’t be easy, Roger, but you can do it.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Glenn, sorry your comment reference numbers don’t work now but Roger repeated himself and I also had to expunge certain of his remarks in which he lost his self restraint, again…

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Jordan Richardson

    What’s so fucking hard to understand.

    99 percent of what you write?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Chris –

    That’s understandable. I just hope he realizes that you’re doing your job and that some of us just want him to remember how it feels to be both liked and respected.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    I don’t know, Jordan, perhaps we should be grateful that on his arrival on these shores, Roger decided to turn his talents to philosophy rather than, say, songwriting.

    I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed hearing Jerry Lee Lewis sing of “Incandescent Spherical Objects of a Significantly Larger Size Than Is Customary”.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    There’s a big difference between “you’re a twit” and “you’re an f-word this, f-word that, you f-word moron, you f-word imbecile”. No, those weren’t all your exact words, but they’re close enough in the aggregate.

    It’s a matter of degree. The man you were knew this already. Stop listening to the pride that forces you to act thusly, and start listening to the pride that made you the man that we all liked and respected.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Is that song a ten-parter, Doc?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Could be.

  • Zingzing

    Lay off.