The much hailed release of the soul searching “autopsy” by the Republican National Committee by Chairman Reince Priebus clarified the party’s attitudes about the 2012 election and their goals for 2014 and beyond. In summary it said that while Republican policies are valid and correct for America, the rhetorical approach used in the the campaign was wrong. He stated that they needed to broaden their tent and invite everyone in and be open to a variety of opinions. But that is not as good as it sounds.
In an interview with Luke Russert of MSNBC Priebus said, ” I know what our principals are, I know our party believes marriage is between one man and one women, but I also know that our party is going to be inclusive, and it’s going to listen to people and it’s going to allow differences in our party”. Sounds good right? The problem is that he also stated to religious conservative leaders that he doesn’t think the party should change its policies to attract gay voters. So, welcome them as long as they don’t demand equal rights. He also said, ” his mother used to tell him, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that is most important”. Of course we also have the variety of speakers at CPAC saying that the Republican Party lost the election because it is just not conservative enough. They believe it is their job to convince America that conservative policies are the right policies. The consensus was that the Republican Party needs to fully embrace conservatism to have success in future elections. At the same time, Karl Rove said that he is going to use his PAC to support candidates that move more to the center on social issues and avoid such catastrophes as ” legitimate rape”, while Sarah Palin is fighting him making social issues her focus. The right wing fringe in the Senate has announced that they will filibuster the gun legislation about to be brought to the floor, and the House passed the Ryan budget that was even more draconian than his last one. It is clear that the Republican Party has learned little from the last election despite their “autopsy”
The Republican Party is in crisis. It is struggling to find a direction that will lead to success in future elections, however the conflicts within are preventing any real progress. As a Democrat who supported and worked for Obama’s reelection I should be gleeful at their difficulties. However, as an American who believes in the value and necessity of a viable two party system I am concerned. The polls are clear. The Republican Party is in decline. Despite the Republican majority in the House and their ability to utilize antiquated Senate rules to impact on legislation, they simply do not support those issues that resonate with the majority of Americans.
What has become very apparent is that our senators and congressmen, on both sides of the aisle, lack the courage and principals to stand up to those who threaten them with a lack of financial and political support. The only important principal in most of their minds is maintaining their office at any cost. While this is despicable in all cases, it appears it might be fatal for the Republican Party.