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A House Divided?

How Ideological Division Could Spell Trouble for The Party of Lincoln.

By Alexander Pantinakis

Republicans, have you noticed how many ways we describe ourselves? 

We have conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans, Ronald Reagan Republicans, Log Cabin Republicans, libertarian Republicans, Rockefeller Republicans, neoconservatives, social conservatives, tea partiers, 9/12ers, the far-right, the sort of right, the not so right and  always right Republicans.  

Some may call this wide range of political affiliations “diversity.” I call it insane.

What do the Democrats call themselves? Just Democrats! There is little to no division among liberals.  As you would expect, the Democrat Party has taken full advantage of Republican division and used it for their own electoral gain, and Republicans have no one to blame but ourselves.

On the day of President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, White House senior advisor David Plouffe told CNN’s Candy Crowley that the Democrat strategy heading into to 2014 was to divide the Republican Party and give Democrats an easy path to victory for years to come.  Thus far, they are succeeding.

Liberals have been able to fracture the GOP in such a way that every major policy concern now requires internal debate.  Whether it’s gun control, abortion, gay marriage, or foreign policy, a clear divide has shown itself at the heart of the Republican Party. 

We in the GOP are constantly eating our own.  We should expect Democrats to attack and divide us, but the constant bickering between the so-called “yacht club” Republicans and the Patrick Henry lookalikes has done more damage to conservatism than any liberal activist.  How can we claim to have solutions to our nation’s pressing issues when we can’t even figure out who we are?

The Grand Old Party has a history of bickering amongst themselves. During the Lincoln administration, the President battled with “Radical Republicans” over the best way to handle slavery.  In the early 20th century, the Republican Party was torn in half, between the progressive Theodore Roosevelt and the industrialist William Howard Taft. This patchwork of differing views might have worked in the past, but we have taken it too far.

Some “conservatives” in the media, seem to get some odd pleasure out of criticizing other Republicans.  In fact, some rightwing blogs seem to attack Republicans more than they do Barack Obama, Eric Holder, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Listening to some in the talk radio circuit, a few hosts (in their own mind) have already removed several potential 2016 candidates from contention.  Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Kelly Ayotte and Paul Ryan have all received heavy criticism from the Right. It’s easy to pick off potential candidates, but we are doing a disservice to our shared cause by annexing potential leaders before anyone has filed to run or any ballots have been cast.

These are the same people who refused to stop pushing the so-called “non-Romneys” in the most recent primary season.  Long after the nomination was decided; the party spent much needed time rehashing old news, while over-the-hill politicians struggled to stay in the limelight.

Ultimately, division doomed Mitt Romney in 2012. Despite his conservative credentials, the Romney ticket garnered nearly two million less votes than the moderate John McCain in 2008. Those actively involved in the campaign often chanted that this was “the most important election of our lifetime,” but unfortunately some Republicans didn’t think it was important enough to go to the polls and cast their vote. The reason why Republicans failed in 2012 will be talked about for years to come, but based on evidence, I believe that we lost because we couldn’t unite behind our candidate.

2012 should have been a lesson learned, but it doesn’t seem that we’ve learned much of anything.  Instead of uniting against the faltering Obama administration, Republicans are preoccupied with throwing jabs at each other or giving Democrats huge public relations wins for pushing immigration reform, pro-life issues, or drone strikes. Whatever your opinion of these issues, it does not make any strategic sense for Republicans to advance some of the country’s most divisive political issues to the spotlight. Doing so overshadows our opponents’ missteps.

There is nothing wrong with some robust internal debate within our Party.  But if the Republican Party wants to thrive, we must take a lesson from our political ancestors and support each other.  We should be focusing on the things that we agree on, not our petty differences. Nothing unites Republicans more than their overall disdain for Barack Obama's policies. By some small miracle, we actually have a shot to take the Senate in 2014, but only if we nominate good candidates and then support them.  As the founder of our Party said so eloquently stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

(Op-Ed/Aug. 30, 2013)

Alexander Pantinakis is the Executive Producer of The Cindy Graves Show on Talk Radio 600 WBOB. A Jacksonville native and member of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee and Communications Committee, he is also currently enrolled as a student at Florida State College at Jacksonville. Alexander has been active in politics throughout his adult life, including working on numerous campaigns and running for elected office in 2012. Follow him on Twitter @Pantinakis.

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