Although Republicans and some TEA Party members won the midterm elections handily, the GOP faces some challenges in 2016. It will have a myriad of contenders for the party’s presidential nomination, but only a member of the ‘old guard’ receives the voter’s approval as of this moment. Interior strife between the real GOP and the TEA Party will create division and detract voters.
The first inside battle was waged during the budget debates. Conservative TEA Party extremists wanted to defund President Obama’s executive order to legalize five million undocumented residents; the GOP chose not to include the restriction. This is the core of the problem; extremists will never deliberate the issues and attempt to find common ground. This will continue to create dissension inside the Republican Party, and our nation cannot be governed effectively from a single point of view.
Should the Republican Party be split into two separate entities? The old adage, ‘a house divided cannot stand’ certainly applies here. The GOP does not exist at this moment; there exist two parties labeled as one; Republicans and the TEA Party.
In addition to the question as to what type of presidential candidate should be chosen, Republicans will face a battle in 2016 to retain 24 seats in the Senate. Seven of those seats are in states where President Obama won handily in 2008 and 2012. More moderate Republicans believe the only way to keep the seats is by running a candidate who is more centrist and less extreme.
The problem likely to be the most contentious will be the Republican Party Platform. Is it possible for the GOP to become one and agree on policies and a philosophy? What will be the party’s final position on immigration, finance, voting rights, and education? How will the Republican Party face the challenges of appealing to minority voters, women, and those under 35 years of age?
And the TEA Party has its own squabbles. When President Obama revealed that the United States was involved with Cuban leaders, attempting to achieve diplomatic relations, two leading presidential hopefuls disagreed on the President’s action.
Marco Rubio, Senator from Florida, vehemently condemned the President’s announcement. He claimed nothing had changed in Cuba, and its government would be receiving all the benefits from such action. Rubio’s parents are Cuban exiles.
Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky, said that he believed the time had come for such action. The embargo placed on the nation 54 years ago had not produced the expected results, and the people, not the government, had suffered. In addition, people in both nations have relatives in the other and have not seen them in years.
Who must the GOP nominate to satisfy its base? A poll taken over a month ago gave Republicans insight as to the type of candidate voters would approve. The name mentioned most often was Mitt Romney. Jeb Bush followed him and Chris Christie was a distant third.
The results revealed the fact that most Republican voters want a more moderate candidate in 2016. Washington as a whole has accomplished virtually nothing in the previous six years. The first four years Mitch McConnell openly stated that they would do nothing with the exception of finding a way to make Mr. Obama a one-term President. When the TEA Party became more powerful in 2012, another dimension was added to the fray.
As of this writing at least 13 Republicans are expected to announce that they will be candidates for the GOP nomination. Will one emerge as a leader, and the front runner? Will 2016 see a Republican Party filled with ideas and policies similar to those of Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole, and the like; or will the Republican Party leader be a new type of Republican and repudiate the former GOP standards?
By James Turnage