When you operate a country of over 320 million people with a two party political system expecting homogony is unrealistic. There are interest groups in either Party. The individual hierarchy of issues will vary by individual. Today’s version of the Republican Party has taken that principle to the breaking point and it is now time for them to either reinvent themselves or split up. To me it looks like the latter is the only viable option.
I’m a progressive Democrat and some issues are more important to me than others. Cradle to grave universal health care for all has been my top social priority for decades. That is part of why I was so happy when Obamacare became the law of the land. While it is far from perfect, it is the best step forward we have ever had and a solid foundation upon which a better program can be built, (think 1935 and Social Security). Others in my Party may have another issue in the top slot. I support it. It just isn’t at the top of my list.
My point in the above paragraph is that while the Democratic Party is also a big tent Party almost without exception Democrats agree on principles. We have the same items on our lists; they just might be in a slightly different order. The Republicans (who are a large but smaller tent Party) cannot say the same thing. In the aftermath of the 2008 election the Tea Party movement started to take over the Republican Party. This was far from a hostile takeover. The Republicans were shocked that they lost and were worried their Party was about to fall apart. While racism isn’t the sole motivation of the Tea Party it is a huge uniting factor. The Tea Party’s rise was a direct result of a black man being elected President.
Many names get associated with political movements and the latest is alt-right. It describes the extreme right in the Republican tent that like to coopt the term conservative. While a liberal I have respect for true conservatives and find the cooption repulsive. Conservatism is a legitimate (although I feel too often incorrect) political philosophy that must be listened to and respected.
With the emergence of Donald Trump this situation is nearing its boiling point. Trump’s mantra is “Make America great again”. What the alt-right hears when that is uttered is: make America white again. To add fuel to an already burning out of control fire Trump put Steve Bannon in charge of his campaign last week. Bannon ran the far right wing (alt-right) website Breitbart. Breitbart is one of the main thorns in the side of establishment and wannabe establishment Republicans. They were one of the main forces that led John Boehner to finally decide to effectively say take this job and shove it. They were instrumental in knocking Eric Cantor out in his primary bid. They have fought Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
If you are one of my regular readers you are probably asking yourself, “What’s wrong with Larry? Is he actually defending the likes of Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and McConnell?” Well, I’m not. What I’m trying to illustrate is that in the minds of the alt-right these guys were sellouts and too liberal.
The Christian Right/Silent Majority/Tea Party/alt-right are not really part of the Republican Party. It is a group of fringe extremists who coopted the GOP in order to have access to the mechanics of our electoral system. Left on their own they lack the numbers and organization skills to be a viable political party.
If the Republican Party wants to survive as a viable conservative center-right political party it must divorce itself from this element with which it has irreconcilable differences. If won’t be easy but it is a matter of survival much more dire than what it thought it faced in the aftermath of the 2008 election.
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