It has been fascinating to watch the Republicans twist themselves into pretzels as they try to adjust to the results of the election. As I have stated on a number of occasions, a purge will occur in the Party after the election. What I haven’t stated, was in which direction the purge would move. Will the purge leave the Party further to the right or will it attempt to move to right of center? It would seem that the results of the election have provided the imperative, yet there are some in the Republican Party that simply won’t take “no” for an answer.
It is at this point that politics and its associated fringes become incredibly transparent. Who benefits most from drawing sharp lines between the Democratic approach and that of the Republican Party? Who is bound to be the financial beneficiary of an ongoing battle? First and foremost, the Republican radio mavens, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, etc. benefit by creating a sense of Republican victimization at the hands of the misguided Democrats. If the two parties begin to work together and compromise, they are left with nothing to complain about. They will begin to sound like the opportunists that they are. It is therefore not surprising that they continue to draw sharp lines and push for the Party to continue its hold on the far right.
The second group, not surprisingly, is the radical right wing of the Party. These are the current Senators and Congressmen who were elected by a radical right wing constituency. They are the agenda driven group with axes to grind on both social and fiscal issues. They find themselves in a bind. If they are going to be true to those who elected them, they must continue to represent them on those issues. Yet the cross-currents in the Party are pushing them to move towards the center and open the Party up to a broader, more diverse constituency. Do they attempt to re-educate their constituents, or do they stick to their guns and risk being out of step with the rest of their Party? Being out of step could cost them financial support from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee as they confront re-election. It could also portend a primary battle.
The next group to keep an eye on are those who are seeking the Presidential nomination in 2016. They are prominent and respected leaders of the Party, and they are well aware of the lessons of the 2012 debacle. They recognize that in order to attract the votes necessary to win, they must broaden their Party and make it more diverse. While there are still those insisting that the loss was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough, these leaders understand that he lost because he was simply a bad candidate and they were on the wrong side of every issue that would attract women and minority voters. They recognize that they must pull the Party towards the center to be competitive.
The coming months will provide ample opportunity to assess the direction of the Republican Party. The negotiations over the “Fiscal Cliff”, the upcoming discussion regarding immigration reform and of course the Obama nominations to fill Cabinet positions will expose all remaining ideological quirks. Additionally, potential primary battles in the upcoming 2014 contests should be very revealing as well.
Our form of government requires two, vibrant and healthy Parties to function properly. The Republican Party has spent the past 30 years marginalizing itself by representing the interests of the 1% and the Social Conservatives to the detriment of the Middle Class and the interests of women and minorities. They now have a choice. Will they go the way of the Whigs and the Dixiecrats and end up in the dustbin of history, or will they redirect and reinvigorate themselves to become that necessary second Party?