Division in the Republican Party

by Jim Davis 

The media has made much-to-do about the challenges within the Republican Party after the Presidential election. While left-leaning pundits are giddy that the dastardly conservatives are working through their identity crisis, they fail to remember that the Democrat Party went through the same process prior to, and after the Clinton Presidency. Clinton managed to navigate that divide by talking like a liberal, while sulking down the sidewalk to balanced budgets and conservatism like a wayward child being escorted to the principal’s office in elementary school. 

There are indeed divisions in the Republican Party, but it’s been a big tent party with differing ideas and priorities since 1980. The challenge now is to restrain the factions who feel they can “take over” because the party was weakened in 2005. The Party was weakened because Rockefeller Republicans rejected the principles of the 1994 Contract with America. Principles which had sustained majorities in the House and Senate: and made the GOP the party of Main Street America for a decade. They did in fact, rejected those conservative principles AND the balanced budgets because they succumbed to the Beltway mentality; political junkies say “they developed Potomac Fever.” This caused the loss of the 2006 mid-term elections, along with the trust, and the respect of working class Main Street voters. 

To clarify; a “Rockefeller Republican” is an old-style Republican that represents the specific interest of the well-to-do. That model worked for them mid-twentieth century because, at that time, Democrats agreed that America’s well-being and liberties were positives. The old-style Republicans were comfortable in their minority status until radical elements in the Democrat Party began taking advantage of their genteel inclinations. It was the Barry Goldwater element that found the voice to vociferously disagree with the robbing of America’s future to finance the imprudence of today. Except for the election of George W. Bush, (who was elected because he reiterated the conservatism of the Contract with America- and was reelected because of his strong national defense stance in the face of Muslim extremism and violence): Rockefeller Republicans have lost every election they’ve lead. Those losses include majorities in both Houses on Capitol Hill, and five of the past ten Presidential elections since 1976. After Reagan, George HW Bush won one election on Reagan’s coattails, afterwards only George W. Bush has won the Presidency- specifically because he was more Reaganesque than Rockefeller. 

Because old-style Republicans may have more in common with pre-Marxist Democrats, they aren’t as willing to take the bold stands that made the GOP the party of Main Street. The Rockefeller Republicans wring their hands with aversion to confrontation. That aversion is predicated on an incorrect notion that they will somehow sway enough Democrat votes to win an election by homogenizing political issues. 

Rockefeller Republicans see Reagan Republicans as rubes and unsophisticated. They will use their resources to viciously batter other Republicans who insist they adhere to the party’s platform. The Democrats successfully worked to exacerbate that schism to win reelection for Obama in 2012. Advisor to Obama, David Axelrod told NBC that Democrats will help to “Liberate the Republican Party” from those who insist on conservative principles and Constitutional loyalty. Rockefeller Republicans agreed more with Obama than they did their own base. This would explain the hushed-demagoguery at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The demagoguery that in all likelihood cost the GOP the White House in an election that should have been a slam dunk for them. 

In fairness to the “Rocky Reps,” they are looking at demographic changes in America and are attempting to mirror them. What they fail to understand is no amount of compromise is going to attract those who don’t think critically. The Republican Party is the party of maturity and prudence. Young Democrat voters will find themselves aligning with the GOP as they mature, and as they take their turn raising families. The opportunity today, is to convince middle class and middle aged minorities that America has been good to them; and that their children and grandchildren can prosper as they have- but only if traditional American values are preserved. 

The future of the Republican Party lies in celebrating their strengths: fiscal and social conservatism, family values, the compassion to work with others to be self-sufficient, strong defense, prudence and maturity. The Party’s challenge is to get the buy-in of like-minded minorities, and the old guard Republicans that have created a string of election failures since 1976.

Jim Davis, Jacksonville Grassroots Politics Examiner


Jim Davis is a political pundit from Jacksonville Florida. He has been identified as “Mr. Grassroots” by political leaders in Northeast Florida for his neighborhood work. He meets with, and listens to the ideas and perspectives of the citizens of Jacksonville- often confounding the politicians.

First published on Examiner.com, reprinted with permission.

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