Friday, February 26, 2010

The Battle Within the GOP

There is an interesting battle raging within the Republican party. It's pretty simple; it comes down to whether voters will come out for GOP candidates this time. Bush lost the fiscal conservatives, but kept the defense "hawks," for a time. It wasn't enough, and the voters gave the Dems a chance in '06 and '08. The economy started tanking shortly after they got a congressional majority, and national security was an afterthought, if not a political liabilty for the GOP.

The GOP was called a "rump," or "regional" party, that would stay out of power for at least forty years. David Brooks, and others said that the Republicans have to be more "moderate," or more "willing to compromise." This is not what happened. Voters asserted themselves, and candidates who said "no" to the "big government" agenda won.

So far, it's benefitted the GOP, but this movement is larger than either party. One thing that Pres. Obama has done is to unite independent opposition to his agenda. The "independent" voter, who was willing to give him a chance a year ago, is not so enthusiastic any more.

Meanwhile, the GOP has a revolution within it's ranks. The fiscal conservatives are taking precedence over the social conservatives, and it looks like it's going to stay that way. Issues like "gay marriage" and "abortion" are on the back burner, in current electoral politics. People want the economy to recover, before we resume arguing about those issues.

This is a long, ongoing battle, with many facets. Socially liberal, or "Rockerfeller" Republicans have usually been fiscally liberal, as well. That has changed. The "neo-cons" are an example of voters who are hawks on defense, conservative on the deficit, and libertarian on social ssues. Think of it this way: we want our "liberal" culture to influence otrher nations, such as Iran or China. We can't promote human rights abroad, and bash gays domestically.

Ultimately, the battle within the GOP will make it stronger. As much as the major media will try to discredit them, it looks as if the "tea party" movement will be a thorn in the side of both parties, this year. The GOP, as the minority, stands to benefit, whether it's "divided" or not. They are better positioned to adopt the "tea party" principles, in any case.

Some think that the real "big division" is within the Democrat caucus. They have found a way to stop "health care reform" so many times, when they had the numbers do it. What they were fighting about was the will of the "constituents" vs. the will of the Dem leadership, and the voters won. The Obama administration hasn't helped, by proposing terrorist trials in the civillian court system, something else that voters overwhelmingly oppose.

I relish the division in both parties, because it means that ideas are competing, in a political context. It's often ugly, but it's neccessary for any political system to thrive, rather than just survive. Let there be division within the GOP, and the Dems' ranks. Through this turmoil, the "will of the people" will guide us, for better or worse, in this election year.


BobG said...

Well said, Chris. We have been forged into a strong nation by the heat of disagreement and debate.

BobG said...

Ran across this quote today and it took me back to your post.

"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of its many waters." - Frederick Douglas

Nicely said, I thought.