Sunday, August 25, 2013

Republicans Hanging on to Dated Legacy

If only Jeb Bush would run for President!

With mid terms approaching, Republicans can only dream of those six Senate seats. There are several combinations that would work. But Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Montana, West Virginia and Alaska look SO winnable. All six states broke for Mitt Romney in 2012. In most cases, the result wasn't close.

Democrats see 2014 as the year where the Repbublicans' last chance(hopefully) comes up short. And it might. If it does, it might be a long time before Republicans are this close to controlling both houses. However, it's no certainty that Dems can split the remainder of the board. 51-47 could easily become 53-45.

With Obamacare now accurately positioned as a "tax," many former advocates may be rethinking the entire legislation. Without question, if Republicans retake the Senate, while holding the House, a floor vote will happen. Then those Democrats still holding to their convictions will be forced to defend their vote for a middle class tax increase.

It is fortunate for the Republican establishment that this "diversion" will take forefront. The party has never been closer to a split. This past election and the all out effort to "cram Mitt Romney down the throats" of the base, will not be forgiven or forgotten. The bases problem amounts to identifying friend and foe.

Imagine a triangle. On one corner, you have the traditional "Dewey Rockefeller Republicans." Sean Hannity accurately identifed John McCain as a leader of this faction. He is joined by Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mike Castle, Lincoln Chaffee(now an independent), Lowell Weicker, Dede Scazafava, William Weld and what remains of those originally labeled "liberal Republicans." Today, they are commonly referred to as R.I.N.O.s(Republicans in name only).

Actually R.I.N.O.s of today were pretty much the norm fifty years ago. They didn't change their positions. The party gradually drifted away from them. I can recall Paul Tsongas, a Democrat who referred to himself as a "pro-business liberal." He was considered by most Democrats as "more in tune with Republican" standards. And, from a pure fiscal point of view, he was.

The second end of the triangle is reserved for the "New Conservatives." Many might have been in the "Dewey Rockefeller" camp in 1958.(George H.W. Bush is one who comes to mind) Others came from (not surprisingly) Democrat roots. During the 1950's, many Democrats who took exception to federal intervention on such items as the court ordered busing, school prayer and abortion. They were not to the point where they wanted to discard the overall plan. But, they sought to draw a line. Their support for a strong military gained them much coveted status as "conservatives."

Were they actually conservatives? In their eyes, they were. However, their ideas of conservatism were not that far removed from the Dewey Rockefellers. Nor, did it conflict with the New Deal concept of the "central government managing" the economy. Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul described these new conservatives as "Neo-Cons." According to Paul, they advocate a "large, Washington D.C. based central government to advance and facilitate conservative principles."

The "dogmatics" occupy the triangle's apex. These Republicans seek a "full repeal of Roe versus Wade," advocate a constitutional amendment that would "define marriage as a union between a man and a woman," and to "deport all residents holding no legal status."

"Neo Cons" have successfully connected with this third group by taking a "pro life" stance on abortion. They have also indicated their "anti-gay marriage" preference. In doing so, they have strategically out manuevered the "Dewey
Rockefellers," effectively taking control of the party.

The question is "what percentage" of the true Republican base is represented by all three groups collectively? Surprisingly, it may be less than half. Some say it may be less than one-fourth, more like 20%! If that's the case, who actually composes the base?

During the past 30 years an interesting phenomenon has unfolded. The South, traditionally referred to as the "solid south" switched from reliably Democrat to solid Republican. It actually began in 1964 and continued into the seventies. Jimmy Carter temporarily slowed the defection in 1976. But the reprieve proved to be "fools gold." Carter may have been a Southerner. But his ideology was more consistent with his running mate, Walter Mondale. Southerners eventually figured this out and dumped him in 1980.

Ronald Reagan won the hearts and minds of Southerners with his promise to "reduce the size and cost of government." Out of nowhere emerged a new standard. True, the former California governor lacked the typical Republican pedigree. But his programs were not at odds with party pursuits. A standard had been established. And with it an alternative to the idea of a consolidation of power in Washington, D.C..

So there is lies! True, Appomattox is 148 years in the rear view mirror. But the spirit of states rights(Reagan called it federalism)lives. As a result, a "constititionalist" finds open and accepting ears to their argument that the "founders got it right."

Somewhere between the three corners of the triangle the "meat" of the party has emerged. They are made up of "Reagan Democrats," those who switched parties in the eighties, "10thers," who seek a literal interpretation of the 10th amendment, fiscal conservatives and Libertarians. Because they are a "hodge podge" of interests and viewpoints, they have been slow to assume their rightful place as "party chiefs and captains." However, one leader, one election could change that.

Democrats actually fear this result more than the Republican Establishment. These Republicans do not represent the Harvard or Yale crowd. In fact, most aren't wealthy. This is middle class America manifested. There is much common ground with traditional Democrats, namely JFK Dems. There are likewise countless commonalities with voters who refer to themselves as "Independents." It points to a "Ronald Reagan type" general election result.

Neo-Cons are hoping that Jeb Bush will ultimately throw his hat into the ring. While general election victory will not be assured, a lightly contested primary will be. The GOP status quot will continue. More conservative judicial appointments would be expected. Some sort of a national healthcare compromise would be reached. The military would be maintained. Big business would breathe a little easier.

Democrats know that Bush's nomination will make for a difficult, yet winnable general election. Florida will likely be off the board. John Kasich's selection as running mate could create an "electoral math problem." A Mexican first lady would be something new. But the message and the Republican image would remain largely intact.

The problem stems from "what if Jeb elects not to run?" All indications thus far point in that direction. If he ultimately decides to stay out, the race will be wide open like never before. And, that could ultimately result in a take over by the base.

It took a few years to figure it out. But, smarter minds have prevailed. The present Republican leadership is feeble at best. Money can always be found. And a new direction, complete with dynamic new leadership, stressing traditional American principles can lead to a new American experiment.

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