The Republican Party, or at least the establishment, is dead. At least, that is what I have been told over the last week.
With the unusual conditions surrounding the election, is the Republican Party dead? Is the “true conservatism” banner they have held for so long finally collapsing on top of them?
I believe the Republican Party is not dead, but rather, it is sick. It is sick from warring factions within itself. Between evangelicals, libertarians, neocons, moderates, Tea Partiers and other groups, this election cycle has highlighted the differences between them more than prior elections.
Only time will tell if this sickness of internal strife will fade away like a seasonal cold or if it is a terminal disease that threatens to rip the GOP asunder.
There is a chance that a new Republican alignment will be born from the chaotic fires of this cycle.
“But first we need a corpse,” Leroy Goldman said in The Charlotte Observer article “From Lincoln to Trump: Republican Party is dead.”
In other words, the Republican Party needs to go the route of the Whigs and perish in order for a better replacement to be born.
Despite the article’s claim, I believe the GOP should not rest its head on the execution block just yet because its sickness may be temporary.
When diagnosing an illness, doctors search for the causes of the sickness before acting upon it.
The cause of the Republican Party’s sickness is the argument over what it means to be a “true conservative.” In the same way the Scotsman fallacy modifies an assertion to exclude differing groups of ideas, one Republican’s definition of a true conservative may be entirely different from another’s.
The vast difference in those definitions gives an idea of how divided opinions are on the definition of one of the party’s core values.
With the cause identified, how should the GOP’s sickness be treated?
Usually, it would be with a candidate who unites the party by representing values that appease the more radical sects while being agreeable to the moderate and centrist elements in the party. This time around, however, that card just wasn’t in the hand the Republicans were dealt.
There are three candidates remaining in the race, none of whom are particularly uniting.
We have Donald Trump, whose campaign rides on controversial statements and is considered a middle finger in the face of traditional politics. The Trump voters are people who seek to rewrite the party’s rules even if it causes unnecessary conflict.
We have Ted Cruz, whose Senate record is the personification of obstructive tea party tactics in Washington working to accomplish a Republican agenda.
And finally, we have John Kasich, whose fairly moderate stances are nice for party centrists but are considered too soft for the more hardcore Republican voters.
Between the varying viewpoints given this cycle, it shows the splintered viewpoints Republican voters have toward what their party should look like.
This brings me to what I believe is one of the symptoms of the GOP’s sickness: lack of compromise.
Obstruction is something the Republican Party has become famous for over the last six years.
The American Legislature is a place “where nothing is accomplished,” Dave Helling and Steve Kraske said in the McClatchyDC article “Analysis: How the death of compromise has crippled U.S. government.”
While the fault is not just on the Republicans but also on the Democrats, the Republicans are the most at fault for the government being dysfunctional.
For this, the primary culprit for the symptom of anti-compromise is the Tea Party, whose roots go back to the difficulties of the 2008 recession.
“Angry conservatives, disaffected independents, Glenn Beck disciples, strict constitutionalists and assorted malcontents” had formed the faction in response to a new Democrat president,” Joshua Green said in The Atlantic article “The tea party’s brain.”
Over the past half decade, this faction has seized the Republican Party with obstructionist tactics that candidates and representatives like Ted Cruz now represent.
The Republican Party is not dead, but rather can be salvaged by separating itself from the more hardcore elements such as the tea party.
The lesson is that by trying to please everybody, they end up pleasing nobody.
With the Republican Party in the semi-comatose state it is in, the party cannot pull itself together amidst the heat of an already crazy election season. That said, as soon as the election is over, I suggest the Republican Party take quick action to counter its sickness of faction before the disease threatens to rip it apart.