We’ve all heard comments about what is wrong with the Republican Party: it’s a circular firing squad; there’s an internal fight for the soul of the party, etc.
Republicans have been putting candidates up for national office that are too far right for general election voters for some time and losing elections as a result. Democrats are happy winning elections they used to lose even as many Americans are increasingly discontent with the direction of the nation.
The Nevada Republican Party Central Committee is not only out of step with general election voters; it is out of step with Republican primary voters as well. They passed an ill-advised rule allowing them to endorse candidates and in this past Republican primary most of the candidates they endorsed lost! This is a huge disconnect that only serves to widen the rift in the party. Party leadership endorsing candidates in a primary just seems wrong.
There are many cross currents that underlie the changes that are emerging within the Republican Party. This is a very complex subject that can be analyzed a number of ways. There is the influence of the religious right and/or tea party activists with myriad reasons for their discontent.
One way to look at this confluence of issues is from a jobs and economic perspective. Much of my writing is on faulty tax and trade policies and their effect on jobs and the economy. I have framed these problems in many ways including a battle between the competing interests of multi-national corporations, Wall Street and other economic elites versus “Main Street, USA.” This has led me to believe the internal split in the Republican Party is not over ideology (right vs. far-right) but over the direction of our economy (globalist vs. nationalist).
This year’s Republican primaries provide pundits with additional material about a dysfunctional Republican Party and the reasons for this dysfunction. I continue to look beyond what is said by pundits or campaigns and try to make sense of the changes that we are witnessing today.
Those familiar with the founding of the Republican Party may recall that the party was founded based on a revolution from the center. Whigs and Democrats were gridlocked on issues and Americans were unsatisfied with both parties ignoring the needs of the nation. A few citizens in Ripon, Wisconsin developed a platform that met the needs of the citizens and announced that anyone who would support their platform was welcome in this new party. Within six years Republicans took over the House, Senate and the Presidency. What followed were decades of Republican leadership and the most inventive and prosperous years in our history. Republicans remained the dominant political force by listening to the needs of “We the People.” Republican leadership ended when the Republican Party shifted its focus away from the needs of the people and onto financial institutions.
I see much the same turmoil today. Today’s unrest on the left (1%’ers) and right (tea Party) signal discontent and the coming of reform. The Virginia Republican primary win of Dave Brat over House Majority Leader Cantor is another signal. Mr. Brat consistently refers to the competing interests of Wall Street and “Main Street, USA.” He understands what we need to do to create a strong domestic economy and American jobs. So I see this election outcome slightly different than the pundits.
Rather than a fight between the tea party and establishment, as the media reports, this outcome resulted from voters’ support for Main Street/domestic jobs as opposed to Cantor’s voting record that is closely aligned with the crony capitalist/globalist view. On this past Fox News Sunday show, George Will referred to Eric Cantor as the nexus between House Republicans and Wall Street. Reince Priebus called Mr. Brat a main stream, Reagan Republican who happens to be popular with local tea party activists. This quote from Mr. Brat’s web site is instructive:
“Dave Brat believes that crony capitalism is eroding the public’s trust in government. Dave will vote against bills that benefit big business over small business.”
This statement leads me to believe Mr. Brat recognizes the conflicting interests of the globalists and “Main Street, USA.” Most tea party candidates ask us to vote for them because they are more conservative, which is a euphemism for “far-right.” Mr. Brat’s web site tells me he sees our economic problems much as Reagan did. If this is true, the Republican Party may be better off without Majority Leader Cantor.
As this year’s silly season unfolds look for further evidence that a reformation is underway inside the Republican Party with voters preferring candidates who support focusing on a strong domestic economy and creating jobs.
The Republican Party has always been the party of business. Since Reagan, globalization of our economy has torn at the fabric of the Republican Party, pitting those who put the domestic economy first against those who put trans-national corporate profits ahead of the national interest. Until Republicans resolve this conflict, they will remain a minority party while Democrats are happy to legislate and govern.
Every once in a while we see candidates like Dave Brat who can manage these conflicting interests with sound policies that satisfy both factions. Republican leaders aligning with voters and Main Street would bring back American jobs. Once they start winning elections again, their minor ideological differences will melt into the background. The Virginia election is a good start and may finally get the attention of party leaders.
Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.