Divisions in GOP may be increasing

To get some perspective on how different the two parties have evolved, it is interesting to note the primaries. Before 2010 Democrats were known for their fratricidal primaries, especially in the South. Now Republicans are facing the same dilemmas. It is reckoned that because so many moderates were defeated by ultra-conservatives, that GOP changes to control the Senate were hampered.

From Ken Buck and Christine O’Donnell to the bizarre Todd Akin, the GOP has seen nominees which would have been vetted out in the past suddenly score upsets over candidates that have better prospects. But there is also a newer style of Republican, far more populist and less impressed by wealth.

Those libertarians seemingly think it’s clever to say they are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” If one thinks about it, it can be seen as an abandonment of any standards whatsoever. Whereas many conservatives are concerned about the state of the American family, the Ayn Rand army marches on, parading the doctrines of the autonomous individual, no responsibility to a larger unit, let the good times roll.

For the evangelical Christian this appears, or it does ironically to some liberals, that it is worship of acquisition at the expense of the middle class and the least of these. These Republicans are God and Guns Democrats with Southern roots.

There is a difference between the old conservative wing of the Democratic party and hard core libertarianism. And they were not shy for using government to protect traditional speakers. The reason they find old-fashioned club Republicans off-putting is that they have no connection to the old Union-league GOP.

Even members in good standing of the financial Republican Wing such as Mitt Romney had to show obeisance to ultra-conservative social views. But it weakened beyond measure their ability to appeal to independents and younger voters. Chris Christie in New Jersey has tried to appeal to traditionalists while not pandering to them, but there has not been serious analysis why the divisions in the GOP persist.

While the Republican National Committee is partially responsible, the efforts of Ken Mehlman’s and Michael Steele’s chairmanships were nil. Both tried to push the party toward the center. The Tea Party destroyed that arrangement and under Rence Priebus has become a willing partner with the GOP. But there is a need for a Ray Bliss or a Robert Strauss, not for an ideologue. “Mr. Nuts and Bolts” Bliss rebuilt the party after the 1964 Barry Goldwater debacle with patience and showing little favor to any portion of the GOP. He was an excellent candidate recruiter, getting talent such as Charles Percy and Mark Hatfield to run for the Senate.

But it is a vastly different party than it was in the 1960s. With the growth of the Southern GOP, the influx of what had been conservative Democrats changed the party. They were not sympathetic to reproductive freedom or the Equal Rights amendment – which after all has Republican roots. If these dilemmas are not resolved, the divisions between the GOP ways will get deeper.