Third Party

The problem with the Republican Party is… well, franky, the Republican Party.

In January, the Republican leadership and conservative strategists met in Charlotte NC to try and figure out what went wrong in their 2012 bid to take control of the Senate and the Presidency. They want to improve the image of the Republican Party, but promise to maintain their core conservative values.

The RNC just released their autopsy of their failed 2012 bid. The results are interesting, but indicate that the Republican Party is about to undergo some serious changes, which the report does not foresee. They are treating the symptoms, and missing the causes and the unintended consequences of trying to win elections with the new strategy.

One of the primary recommendations of the GOP’s assessment is to change the way the primaries are run. They (correctly) see that the brutal and seemingly endless 2011-2012 primary really allowed the candidates to diminish each other to the point that the winner came out without the full support of the party, and with a damaged brand for the rest of the nation.

The first important point missed by the GOP’s assessment is that, in the GOP, the win is EVERYTHING. The candidates will tear each other apart rather than lose to someone else. They are vicious. Fail to address this issue, and it doesn’t matter if you put a band-aid over the sucking wound.

The second point missed by the assessment was addressed by Erick Erickson, who writes the conservative blog. He says “…It sounds like it’s a top-down, Washington dictating to the states what should happen. I think if the party forces it through, they’re going to see a huge backlash from the base.” The base actually has a reason to want to keep the format unchanged: a change could disadvantage a grassroots candidate who can’t raise a lot of money upfront – in other words, the kind of candidate that plays well to the ultra-conservative base of the GOP.

And here is the third problem. For decades, the Republican Party has been baiting their base with gay issues – gay marriage, gay adoption, the horror of the gay lifestyle. Being against the gay is a Moral Imperative. Now the Republican Party sees acceptance of gay marriage as a gateway issue to getting young people to vote Republican.

If the GOP is serious about accepting undocumented immigrants and gay marriage, the party is going to have a problem with its base. There is already a party structure within the GOP, the Tea Party movement. I can easily see a moment when the base picks up its pink plastic teacups and its imaginary friends and takes it Tea Party elsewhere. I foresee a day not too far away, when the national Presidential ballot had a Democratic, a Republican, and a Tea Party candidate.


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