YAKIMA, Wash., April 9, 2013 — Is the Republican Party split into two opposing fractions, one with traditional conservative beliefs, the other driven by uncompromising tea party ideology?
In February, 2009 the tea party movement staged its first protest, which was against the TARP bill signed by President Bush in 2008. In that same protest rally, the tea partyers also protested a bailout plan signed into law by President Obama just ten days before the protest.
Ironically, the tea party seems to have taken flight in Obama’s home town of Chicago.
It was on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, 2009 that a fellow by the name of Rick Santelli raised the idea of a tea party-like protest of the government subsidizing bad lending by large mortgage houses. More of a rant against bad government policy, it became known as ”the rant heard around the world.”
Since Santelli’s idea, the tea party movement has become synonymous with the ultra-conservative side of the Republican Party. It is made up of people who their critics claim are polarized into extreme positions on the right. To complicate matters, this group is often at odds with the leadership of the Republican Party.
When Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) tried to compromise with President Obama on a “grand bargain,” the tea party Republicans in the House revolted. They nearly cost him is speakership.
With the defeat of Mitt Romney in the last election, the Republican Party has been evaluating what it must do to win in 2016. They have determined Romney’s defeat was largely a result of not reaching out to Hispanic voters.
The conventional wisdom is that Republicans need to reach out to working minorities, especially Hispanic voters, to win the 2016 presidential race. Can they do this?
The answer to this question lies in the ability of the Republican leadership to move the extreme right of the party towards the center. So far, tea partyers have shown little interest in moving anywhere.
The reality is that Republican leadership has not been able to use new tactics and slogans to appeal to the very voters needed to win in 2016. They continue to use “no new taxes” and “cut spending” as their mantra for promoting their Party.
But the masses they need to incorporate into the party are more worried about jobs, immigration, and health care. While many in the Republican Party agree these issues need to be dealt with, tea partyers are not prepared to compromise on them.
The so-called gang of eight has recently been leaking the fact that a compromise immigration bill has been reached. However, a staunch conservative, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), has warned that it is not a done deal.
The future of immigration will depend on the Republican leadership’s ability to unify its own party.
The question for America democracy, the Republican Party, and the 2016 presidential race is whether the split Republican Party can heal itself. Lincoln said it best: “A house divided cannot stand.”
Can the Republican Party unite to win the 2016 presidential election?
Larry Momo writes for both The Washington Times Communities Politics and the San Pedro News Pilot.
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