Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Future of the Right

With this year's elections starting to draw more media attention, more attention has started shifting to the struggles between the establishment GOP and the Tea Party. While the GOP has always been the party with the strongest mutual support of its candidates as opposed to the fractured Left, the division between more "moderate" Republicans and those on the extreme side threatens to sink the entire Right in the upcoming political campaign seasons.

An article on Salon's website sums it up well. The Tea Party, comprised of the extremists of the Right-wing, will stop at nothing, and will compromise nothing, to achieve their goals. They will cut off their proverbial nose to spite their face, even if it means losing more ground than they already have in the public discourse. They are trying desperately to alienate themselves from the establishment GOP, which they feel is not extreme enough in its ideology to be of any use to the country.

When the GOP lost the last Presidential election, the RNC produced what has become known as their "autopsy report." Basically, they analyzed the demographics of voters, the campaign slogans and appeals, and pointed to areas where the Republicans needed to fix their image. Now, the Republicans have, for the most part, ignored the autopsy report's suggestions, and continued with obstructionist tactics and old talking points, which is not that surprising. Like I said, traditionally the Republicans have been adept at supporting a single candidate for high office, and so they have a good chance of prevailing over a Democratic party that is much more divided.

But the Tea-Party supported group, American Principles in Action, published their own report that attacks the GOP autopsy and lays out its own plan for growth and change on the Right. The rebuttal report's primary argument is that the GOP failed in the Presidential election because it...get this...wasn't conservative enough. According to the APA's report, if the GOP had taken a more conservative stance on social issues, been less willing to compromise, and had presented a more conservative economic policy, they would have attracted more voters from groups like Latinos, women, and the blue-collar working community.

The irony, in my mind, is these are exactly the groups that would choose not to vote for a more conservative Republican candidate. Specifically, why would Latinos vote for a party whose policies would force them to carry papers to identify themselves at all times? Why would women vote for a party that states that they want to restrict a woman's access to medical procedures and protections that are guaranteed under the law? And why would blue-collar workers want to vote for a party that would strip away safety and health regulations, gut the rights of unionized workers, eliminate the minimum wage, and cut health benefits?

What the GOP learned long ago, and has since forgotten, is that they have to balance their rhetoric in a way that makes it appealing to voters. The mainstream Republican party does not expect to get many women to vote for them when they champion restrictions on a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, so they have learned to compromise. They have become satisfied with the limits they got that restrict federal money for abortions, and that place certain restrictions and requirements on them.

But the Tea Party hasn't learned this yet, and it doesn't seem like they are going to at all. They seem to believe that anything that they don't agree with is treasonous for America. They don't believe in compromise, they don't believe in difference of opinion, and they haven't realized that their brand of conservatism will gain them no supporters among certain groups. They have somehow convinced themselves that everyone is a conservative, and that if they just get more conservative, they'll start winning elections. That's not how it works.

I'm sorry to say that the days of the Moderate Republican seem to be dwindling.I hope that we don't lose common-sense conservatives, because we do need them as a counter-weight in Washington. But we need a counter-weight that is willing to compromise. We need conservatives who understand that our nation is founded on compromise and runs on all representatives working together. We need a Congress that will find solutions to our problems instead of letting the whole thing go to shit on principle.

The future of the Right is uncertain. I do not envy them at the moment, but I do feel sorry for all of us who may feel the effects all too soon.

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