Yesterday was celebrated as “Constitution Day” on many college campuses across our nation. Depending on the institution, there were forums, panel discussions, and even guest speakers to discuss the importance and significance of the Constitution of the United States. As an American historian, I have spent a lot of my academic career studying that early generation of American statesmen that took part in the forming of the government of our great nation. The college where I work was no different; Henderson Community College had a discussion forum where the topic was voting rights. While the forum discussion went fairly well, it was the questions from my students and some former students that really became the highlight of the day’s festivities for me.
Tag Archives: Republican Party
Never before has a political party been so primed to gain so much during the mid-term election cycle and has the politically determined to squander it away. In this important mid-term election, the statistics indicate that the Republican Party can increase its hold on the House of Representatives and gain control of the Senate. In fact, the same polls indicate that the Republican Party could even continue the political sweep and increase its governorships, state legislative margins, and even the presidency in the 2014-2016 election cycle. History indicates there are several reasons why this could easily happen, beginning with the publicly displayed dissatisfaction that the American public has towards the Obama administration. This dissatisfaction comes from apparent failures in both domestic and foreign policy.
Over the past six years I have questioned the Republican Party’s national leadership. It began with the nomination of Senator John McCain as the party’s nominee for President of the United States. Yes, Senator McCain is a national hero and served his nation during a time of war when that particular war was extremely unpopular. Yes, Senator McCain is a former prisoner of war and is someone to be honored. Yes, he has served in the Senate for a number of years and no doubt possesses an understanding of the legislative processes of our national government. Yet with all those “qualifications” heralded by the Republican National Committee establishment he was unable to defeat the most inexperienced president the United States has had in modern times.
In the mid-term elections of 2011 something exciting happened within the halls of Congress – conservative candidates selected by a growing grassroots movement were sworn into their respective positions in the House and Senate. These candidates were not hand selected by the establishment within the Republican and in some cases, did not have the financial backing of the vast financial resources of the Republican Party. Listening to the political commentary originating from the party establishment, it was obvious that they did not believe true conservatism had a chance at winning elections. The establishment pointed to “grassroots” candidates such as Christine O’Donnell and others as being politically too weak to win elections and even gloated when she lost, highlighting that the Republican National Committee alone knew how to pick candidates that would be able to beat Democrats. They ignored grass-roots selected and elected members of Congress such as Representatives Ted Cruz, Sandy Adams, Dianne Black, Bill Cassidy, Jeff Duncan and thirteen others that brought with them a mandate directly from the people and not from the Republican establishment.
Karl Rove, Reince Priebus, and other career politicians that are the core leadership of the GOP establishment have moved the Republican Party away from its traditional political base and with no debate, have shifted to a platform that appears to be a Democratic Party Lite version. Gone from the national GOP platform are the demands for smaller national government, less taxes, development of domestic energy sources, pro-life (both from an abortion and euthanasia stand) and determination to bring industry back to the nation. In its place is a new agenda that is more progressive with the only real difference between it and the Democratic Party platform is who would be in charge of implementing the numerous progressive ideas. The party establishment appears to support the concept of a larger, more intrusive national government (among these supporters was President George W. Bush), the acceptance of higher personal and corporate taxes, a commitment to maintaining a bloated national government, an unwillingness to address welfare reform, and immigration reform that appears to offer everything as a means to gain votes. The Republican Party, under the leadership and influence of Karl Rove, appears to be interested in being in control of a progressive agenda instead of being opposed to it.
The upcoming midterm election should be a sure-win for the Republican Party; however, the party bosses have declared war on the Tea Party – the part of the Republican Party that allowed the ascension of Congressman John Boehner to Speaker of the House. The establishment, however, has already indicated that grassroots Tea Party candidates could cost the Republican Party the control of the House and more than likely assure that the Senate remains in the hands of the Democrats. Instead of having an honest dialogue to address the concerns of the Tea Party movement, the GOP establishment sees them as a political threat. In a recent article on Breitbart, it was noted that political contributions to the GOP establishment Super PACs amounted to nearly $7 million with contributions to Super PACs lead by Karl Rove bringing in another $6.1 million. The top three major conservative PACs were able to raise a combined total of nearly $20 million; a smaller conservative Tea-Party PAC, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, was able to raise roughly $6.4 million, eclipsing the financial contributions of the three Rove-oriented Super PACs.
The fear mongering being used for the sole purpose of building the party establishment war chest shows how out of touch the national party leadership is with its base. Over the past few election cycles, the base of the Republican Party has asked for a national discussion on conservative real world solutions to problems faced by the nation. The conservative base has wanted the Obama administration to answer the tough questions on Fast and Furious, the Benghazi attack, the IRS scandal, the apparent racial double standards of the Department of Justice, the icy diplomatic relations with Great Britain and Israel, behind closed-door agreements with China, Russia, and the apparent decline in prominence in America’s role in the United Nations. Instead of holding an honest dialogue, the conservative base has been painted as out of touch with mainstream society and has been accused of being radical by both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party establishment. By demonizing the conservative base, the establishment hoped to win the support of moderates under the premise that Republicans need the moderates to win elections.
The 2011 midterm elections was the beginning of a war within the Republican Party to see who will control the defining elements of the party. If the establishment is successful in expelling the Tea Party faction from its base, a third-party will form with conservatism at its center. It will become the new opposition party to the Liberal leaning Democratic Party machine and will overtake the Republican Party as espousing the ideals that made this nation great. If the establishment loses and the Tea Party does manage to take control of the Republican Party, the two-party system will remain with the Republican Party again being an opposition party to the Liberal agenda (I doubt this will happen as the leadership seems bent on destroying the party rather than to allow conservatives to win control). Either way, the current party establishment will lose because the base has demonstrated since the 2011 election that if the party leadership will not listen to its conservative base, the base will take its money, its efforts, and its political support somewhere else that will. The Republican Party needs its conservative base more than that base – the Tea Party – needs the establishment.