Mainstream media types have little to cheer about these days. The president they all but worshipped these past five years isn’t faring well in public opinion polls, and even they are finding defending him with a straight face quite difficult.
About the only thing they still appear quite giddy about is the “civil war” within the Republican Party. That’s a storyline they absolutely love covering. Tonight, the GOP will provide these media types with more such stories since this year’s GOP response to the State of the Union address will feature at least three responses.
From the House of Representatives, we’ll have Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State. As a married mother of three children, she offers the GOP an opportunity to counter the Democrats “war on women” theme. Even if she slips up and uses the word “libido,” at least she’s a woman saying it. From the Senate, Utah Senator Mike Lee will offer thoughts from the Tea Party faction of the party. Finally, Senator Rand Paul will provide his perspective. One report this morning suggests that there will be additional responses, but so far, these are the big three.
Clearly, there is a problem here that needs addressing before the midterm elections later this year and certainly prior to the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans may not all agree on everything, but they’d better find a way to work together unless they prefer fighting amongst themselves to leading.
It was the country’s first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who noted “[a] house divided against itself cannot stand” (borrowing from the Bible). In Lincoln’s case, he referred specifically to the institution of slavery, but the same concept is applied over and over throughout history.
Then there’s the old “divide and conquer” tactic used so effectively since the beginning of time. Get your enemy fighting within, and you’ll likely win. It was, in fact, attempted against Lincoln himself in 1863.
For the first couple of years of the Civil War, things didn’t look good at all for the Union with the Confederates continuing to win key battles. Within the Union, two factions began to emerge. There were those who supported Lincoln and stood determined to keep the fight going no matter the cost until the rebellion was crushed, and there was a significant and growing minority asking if the whole thing was worth the price being paid in blood and treasure. As the war dragged on without success, increasing numbers of citizens on the Union side began feeling that perhaps they could live with the Confederate States of America after all.
The Confederates were well aware of this growing sentiment. General Robert E. Lee thought he could even end the war by playing on this growing movement.
Hence, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred. Lee didn’t invade the north to take it over. Instead, he hoped to play on the divisions within the north by giving one side in the argument reason to give into the other. The north was already divided. Lee hoped to conquer it.
As a political party, the GOP is clearly divided. In the past two presidential contests, it’s been conquered.
Somehow (and it certainly won’t be easy), the GOP will need to find a way to work through all the divisions if it truly hopes to rise again. Otherwise, going forward, it risks being not so much an effective political party but instead a very expensive debating club for more conservative thinkers.