The United States of America needs a strong two-party system. A war is currently going on for the soul of the Republican Party. On one side of the battle, you find the establishment, traditional Wall Street, the business segment of the Republican Party; doing battle with right-wing, Tea Party faction of the party. Each part is seeking dominance over the other in influence. The question is will the Republican Party survive as we have known it..
When I grew up, the Republican Party was a political party that encompassed a wide range of views. Moderates and liberal Republicans were in the Northeast and on the west coast, while more conservative members were from the Midwest and from the western states. Since Nixon, the South has turned Republican while the Northeast has turned blue or Democrat. Liberal and Moderate Republicans are becoming scarce. Demographically, Republicans have become more white and older. The White part of the voting electorate is declining and will continue to decline, while different ethnic groups other than white are seeing their percentage of the electorate increase.
Now we see, the right-wing demand ideological purity of their candidates. If an elected member of Congress does not meet their standard of perfection, the Tea Party will find an opponent to go up against the Republican incumbant.
Within the right-wing we are witnessing a split between social conservatives and the wing of the party that is reading the tea leaves and realizes that if the Republican Party does not change its approach on let us say appealing to Latino voters, prospects will continue to diminish in national elections. Hard line anti-immigrant nativist, are going to make any appeal to increase their voter percentages among the Latino population, nearly impossible. The idea of self deportation that we heard about in the last Presidential cycle is not a winning strategy.
But then, the right-wing of the party does not seem to care about the outcome. They seem to be more concerned about standing on what they perceive to be principle.
In order for the Republican Party to remain relevant, the party needs to stand for something positive, something that the public can see as an attempt to improve the lives of Americans. It is hard to conceive of a strategy of NO, being successful in the long-term.
Republican Presidents in the past 60 plus years, have brought us the Interstate Highway system, Nixon brought us the EPA, and a change of our policy towards China. Ronald Reagan sought to break the Soviet Union, and lower the imprint of big government on our daily lives. Even President George W. Bush helped to pass Medicare Part D.
The recent passage of the Bi-partisan budget deal may signal the beginnings of a change in direction for the Republican Party. The battle for control of the party is still ongoing but the removal from the table of using constant crisis management regarding our nations budget offers an opportunity for the party to offer a greater vision of what they would like to see happen for the American people.
The Speaker of the House plans on having their annual retreat soon to determine what their agenda will be. If the intent of the Speaker, Congressman Boehner is to continue to attempt to defund Obamacare, to cut taxes and expand school voucher plans, I fail to see any universal appeal in any of that.
As more and more people are signed up for Obamacare, the more entrenched the law will become. There is no arguing with the idea that the law needs tweaking and improvement, the overall goal of insuring those who had no insurance is being accomplished and the goal of defunding the law becomes more fanciful as time goes by.
If we are to pay for what we have ongoing as federal programs the idea of cutting taxes becomes more unrealistic. The income gap between the wealthy and the rest of us continues to grow. Corporate America has record profits while the income of the rest of us has grown stagnant.
The corporate tax rate could be cut if we in fact had an effective tax rate where corporate America actually paid taxes. But there are way too many stories of corporations getting major refunds and or paying no taxes at all. Older oil companies like Exxon still benefit by the oil depletion allowance. Newer oil companies who are at a greater risk of success deserve the tax break but sorry, Exxon and others make so much money it is really quite unfair to give them so many tax breaks.
If Republicans expect to privatize Social Security, forget it, it is never going to happen.
Representative Raul Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, put the key issue for Republicans in a nutshell when he stated that the key fight will be over what vision the party will have. He said, ” Are we going to be the party that says the other side is worse than we are, or are we going to show why our side is actually better for the American people.”
A recent Pew poll may offer us a clue on what the next direction of the national debate will be on when it indicated that the public is more concerned about income inequality than they are about federal debt. Actually the poll indicated a willingness to have a mixture of taxes and spending cuts to reduce the debt.
February will be a key indicator as the debt ceiling issue will be front and center, once again. We will see if governing by hostage taking is still in vogue or whether the Republican Party has learned that there is more to governing than putting the credit worthiness of the dollar at risk. The risk of a federal default is not the answer. It would be wiser to only pass a bill when you know you have the revenue to pay for it.
We shall see if the Republican Party can survive by actually listening to what the majority of Americans want and need instead of being controlled by the demands of a distinct minority of us, albeit a vocal one. It is time for the Republican Party to offer the American people a realistic vision of what the future should be like. If they do not, Republicans will go the way of the Whigs, into political oblivion.