In my column New Democrat Party: The Red-Green-Rainbow Troika we took a look at the Democratic Party and how President Obama has fundamentally changed it by forming political alliances, creating a Troika. The members of the Red-Green-Rainbow Troika are certainly strange bedfellows but politics makes for strange bedfellows.
Now let’s look at the Republican Party.
Who has fundamentally changed it, why and is it for the better or worse? Who are members of the New Republican Party Troika (NRPT)? These are questions that may help voters understand what happened during the presidential primary of 2016 and what will happen in the lead up to November 8th.
Just like the Democratic Party, the GOP is make up of a Troika. The Republican Troika consists of three major factions:
- Conservative Republicans (a.k.a. the reds). These are the Grand Old Party elite (GOPe). They joined the party after the Goldwater years and have gained in power and prestige due to their unwavering party loyalty. They normally vote the Republican ticket.
- Republicans In Name Only (a.k.a. the purples or RINOs). These are individuals who joined the Republican party solely to win a political seat or appointment. A perfect example is former Florida Governor, former Republican and now Democrat Charlie Crist. The purples do not hold conservative values, rather they change as does the weather in the Sunshine State. The RINOs will not necessarily vote for the Republican ticket. Some have joined movements to undermine Republican nominees for president dating back to the days of Barry Goldwater.
- Constitutional Conservatives (a.k.a. the TEA Party). They embrace the parchment upon which the Constitution and Bill of Rights are written and signed by the Founding Fathers. This group includes Libertarians.
What differentiates these three factions is their commitment to “conservative values”, which are defined differently by each faction.
Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater and presidential candidate in his book “The Conscience of a Conservative” wrote:
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
This statement, to many Republicans, defines Conservative values at every level of government. The idea of limited government as envisioned by the Founders and enshrined in the Constitution. States rights are paramount and trump efforts to impose government laws and regulations upon the population.
But not all members of the Troika embrace Goldwater’s statement. For you see there has been no true Conservative leader of the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan. How do we know? The American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray in a column titled A reality check about Republican presidents measured the growth of government (i.e. regulations) over the past fifty years. Murray writes:
…I think it’s useful to remind everyone of the ways in which having a Republican president hasn’t made all that much difference for the last fifty years, with Ronald Reagan as the one exception.
First, here’s the history of the most commonly used measure of growth in the regulatory state, the number of pages in the Federal Code of Regulations.
We can fairly blame LBJ’s Democratic administration for the initial spike in regulations, and Jimmy Carter’s years saw another steep rise. But using number of pages as the measure understates what happened during the Nixon years, when we got the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, plus much of the legislation that gave regulators the latitude to define terms such as “clean” or “safe” as they saw fit.
After the Carter years, the slope of the trendline was shallowest in the Reagan and Clinton administrations (with the Clinton result concentrated in his second term, when a Republican House imposed a moratorium on some new regulations). The increase during the Obama years remained on the same slope as the one during George W. Bush’s years. And if you’re thinking about the Democrats’ most egregious regulatory excess, Dodd-Frank in 2010, recall that Sarbanes-Oxley passed in 2002, when Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate.
I should add that presidents don’t bear a lot of blame for failing to reduce regulation — their power to restrain the activities of the regulatory agencies is limited — but neither has electing a Republican president done any good, with Reagan as a partial exception.
With the GOP nominee process ending and Donald Trump as the nominee, what has changed? Who is now the leader of the GOP?
Many would say Trump, as the nominee, will be driving the policy and politics of the Republican Party. However, their are those who write and speculate that their remains an internal discord within the party between one of the three factions. The most likely faction to cause this discord are the purples/RINOs. The other two factions have begun uniting behind Trump.
Ayn Rand wrote, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”
What are the uncontested absurdities of the Republican Party elite? Here’s a short list:
- Fear. Republican elites fear being called out by Democrats, the media and at times by fellow Republicans. The fear is palpable.
- Political correctness. Republicans succumb to the pressures of being politically correct (see #1 above).
- Compromise. Republicans are prone to compromise their values when it is unnecessary or by dint of constant pressure from the Democrat Troika. Compromise is the art of losing slowly. Something the GOPe is accustomed to.
- Elitism. The Republican elite (GOPe) has consistently ignored the voices of primary voters in 2008, 20012 and in 2016.
- Old guard career politicians. The old guard is not focused on retaining the core values of the party of Abraham Lincoln, rather it is focused on winning re-election.
- Lack of leadership. The GOP has controlled Congress for the past 4 years yet has failed to stop the agenda of the Democrat Troika. The leadership of McConnell/Boehner and now McConnell/Ryan have failed to make headway.
- Politics by press release. Republicans have become the party of the press release. They send out press statements that sound good on the surface but seldom become political reality, law or have an impact on public policy or Main Street Americans.
- Ignoring the base. The GOPe believe they can win presidential elections with old guard, politically correct, compromising, career politicians.
- Going along to get along. The best way to win re-election is to go along with the GOPe and Democrats. Shutting down the government to keep from increasing the national debt or reducing the size of government spending goes against the grain of the GOPe.
- The GOPe eats its own. The GOPe in the name of items #1-#9 will attack candidates and elected Republicans. Moderate means purple.
So what’s the solution to all of these Republican absurdities? As Newt Gingrich wrote in an article in The Washington Times on January 8, 2016 titled “Donald Trump”:
You’re sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and sick of illegal’s. You just want this thing fixed. Trump may not be a saint, but doesn’t have any lobbyist money influencing him, he doesn’t have political correctness restraining him, all you know is that he has been very successful, a good negotiator, he has built a lot of things, and he’s also not a politician, so he’s not a cowardly politician. And he says he’ll fix it. You don’t care if the guy has bad hair. You just want those raccoon’s [rabid, messy, mean politicians] gone. Out of your house!
Donald J. Trump has changed the political paradigm. Will the purples follow or become the thorn in the side of Trump. That is the question.