Not Your Father’s Republican Party

When I first started writing some 15 or so years ago, I was able to chide my fellow Democrats by reminding them that the Democrat Party of Bill and Hillary Clinton was not the Party of their fathers and grandfathers. Of course, that is still true. But I can’t throw rocks any more. The current GOP is certainly not the Party of Ronald Reagan either.

As we approach the 2016 presidential election year, there is a power struggle within the Democrat Party between the Clintonistas and those who feel Hillary is unelectable. But there is also a much broader struggle between the “establishment” Republicans, (also known as “RINOS”), and those who still adhere to the Reagan principles of free enterprise, lower taxation, self-reliance, smaller government, etc.

What has happened? What is it the current crop of elder Republicans have in common with their Democrat counterparts? Just this. Members of both parties have made personal careers out of politics. They have spent their lives in “public service.” Examples: McCain – 32 years, McConnell – 30 years, Hatch – 38 years, Conyers – 50 years, Leahy – 40 years, Rangel – 44 years. You get the idea. They have given themselves salaries, healthcare benefits, retirements, etc., they could never achieve in the public sector.

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While the Democrats struggle with finding an electable presidential candidate, the Republican inter-Party conflict runs much deeper. The establishment RINOS consider the members of the younger and more conservative members of their Party, such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and even Sarah Palin, to be more of a threat to their security than their Democrat opponents. The reason is simple. Democrats, if successful, can strip them of their prized committee chairmanships. But the insurgent Republicans can cost them their seats, and they know it. That is why House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have opposed Cruz and others in defunding Obamacare, and have supported Administration policies on increasing the national debt, amnesty for illegal aliens, cutting the military, etc.

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As the election year approaches, the Democrats, if they dump Hillary, will probably settle for MA Senator Elizabeth Warren, or maybe even the Maryland congressman who is making noises about running. But the Republicans have bigger problems.

In last November’s election, the more conservative voters delivered both houses of Congress to the Republican Party, and they expected incumbent Republicans to take notice and respond accordingly. They haven’t. Respected pollster Pat Caddell reports that rank and file Republican members of Congress find their constituents and supporters back home growing anxious and frustrated, while their leaders, Boehner and McConnell, dismiss these citizens as “mindless groups.” Caddell says he is stunned at the disconnect that seems to be growing in the Republican Party. “Basically, Republicans are wusses,” says Caddell. His poll taken just after the November election gave Republicans a 42% favorability rating. It has now dropped to 37%.

Long-time Party loyalist Glenn Beck announced that he is leaving the Party: “I’ve made my decision — I’m out. I’m out of the Republican Party.  I am not a Republican. I will not give a dime to the Republican Party. I am out.”

So the fight is on for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. We would hope that, as usual, “youth will be served.” Because, in the ranks of the GOP, youth, for once, is on the side of Conservatism.

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