Commentary by AJ Segneri, a Whiteout Press contributing writer
May 13, 2012. Washington. Commentary by AJ Segneri. Let's not be fooled in that the 2010 mid-term election was a preview of the rise of the Republican Party. They still have some problems. For example the Tea Party, the current leadership within the RNC, are showing some branching out into their isolated groups. Since the Tea Party burst onto the political scene, many people have said that they are the party that will help boost the Republican Party - a vehicle if you will.
Mitt Romney may not be the unifying candidate some Republicans hoped he would be.
The Tea Party can say that they’ve gotten certain candidates elected into office. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is one of those "Tea Party elected officials". During his campaign in Kentucky, he was charming the Tea Party groups. And during his campaigning he mentioned that he will uphold the Tea Party ideals.
Well as soon he was elected and went to Washington DC, he quickly turned a 180 and said that he does not advocate what the Tea Party says. Rand Paul is not the only person who did that. The fact is the Tea Party cannot be a vehicle for the Republican Party. Instead, the Tea Party is another example of how divided the Republican Party really is.
The Progressive Democrats have said for years they are the vehicle for the Democratic Party. They have worked for various Democratic candidates, and yes most Progressive Democrats will say they’re responsible for getting their candidate elected into office - that being President Obama. I will talk about the Progressive Democrats at a later post.
So if the Tea Party wants to get candidates elected and put forth their policies, then try to become a political party. Rather than be a political arm of the Republican Party, I would like to see the Tea Party going through the motions of becoming a political party in their respective states. In Illinois for example, one of the most difficult states for ballot access, a political party is deemed "established" when their gubernatorial candidate receives 5 percent of the general election vote. Otherwise, a person needs to get 25,000 signatures since they are a "new party". Good luck with that.
The GOP leadership has been a challenge for the party. The Republican National Committee (RNC) had a term with Michael Steele, where he put the party on the forefront. He did this not because of his political strategy, but rather because of his own personality. And now the party’s current chair, Reince Priebus, is not doing a better job. Many believe the only reason Priebus was elected as the new chair, was because of the Republican wave that happened in Wisconsin during the 2010 election. Priebus was the GOP state chair at that time. However, success in Wisconsin does not equate to a successful “takeover” for the party during the 2012 election, which leads into the branching out of the GOP.
When I mentioned that the Republican Party is branching out into isolating groups, you’re probably asking yourself ‘who are these groups’ and ‘who are the major players’ within these groups?
Here is a list:
Neo-Conservatives - This group is about proactive foreign policy. At the same time, they distrust international institutions. They also favor big business. Those involved are former President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Irving Kristol.
Natinonal Greatness Conservatives - This group goes beyond the NeoCons in that they assert the need to have an "appeal to America's Greatness", such as the war of terrorism. Those involved would be Senator John McCain (R-AZ), David Brooks, and Bill Kristol.
Traditional Values Conservatives - This group is concerned over their perception of the decline of social morals and the breakdown of the institution of family. This segment is led by Sarah Palin, Peggy Noonan, and former Reagan Education Secretary William Bennett.
Evangelicals - As the name suggests, this wing of the GOP’s focus is on religion, and they tend to look at social issues through that lens. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Gov. Sam Brownback, and Rev. Pat Robertson would be involved in this group.
Libertarians – This wing tends to favor smaller government and is a little bit more liberal on social issues like legalizing marijuana. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and 2008 Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr are involved in this group.
Buckleyites - Named after the conservative intellectual William Buckley, this group is more of a ‘reality check’ group. That means that those involved in this group tend to be involved with other conservative groups, with the intention of bringing people back together. Republican Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney and columnist Rich Lowry would be most visible among this segment.
Independents - Sometimes known as RINOs (Republicans in name only), they have more of a historical context to them. These individuals come from the likes of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, pretty much pre-Goldwater. Former Senator Arlen Specter, and General Colin Powell would be representative.
Paloconservatives - We have seen this group from time to time where they have preached on the issues of illegal immigration, as well as having high tariffs to protect American jobs. Pat Buchanan and the late Robert Novak would be in this group.
So why did I provide this lengthy list?
Because I wanted to display the complexity the Republican Party has gotten itself into. The one conservative whom this author admires, and was the most civil within the conservative movement, was William Buckley. Buckley played a huge role within the conservative movement and helped the Republican Party for nearly 40 years. What Buckley did beginning in the 1950s was bring all the conservative leaders to the table and design a plan to win elections. Since that time, they’ve won local and state races from the 50s to the 70s. Then by the 1980s, Buckley and other conservatives elected Ronald Reagan as President for two terms, which carried into George H.W. Bush's election.
So how do these group play into the current Republican presidential campaign?
Within the current candidates for the Republican nomination, you have Mitt Romney, Buckleylite; Rick Santorum, Traditional Values Conservative; Newt Gingrich, National Greatness Conservative; and Ron Paul, Libertarian. You may ask yourself whether these candidates could be other kinds of conservatives, and that can be true. However, the ones I mentioned fit the bill better than most. It also reiterates to the fact that these candidates still need to speak to their conservative electorate too. Can Romney speak to the Independents? How do Libertarians feel about Gingrich? Are the non-Evangelicals going to give their blessing to Santorum? Will the NeoCons look up to Paul?
As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I think the Republicans should look more at the past to see where they are at in the present.
A.J. Segneri is a Whiteout Press contributing writer.
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