President Obama has become a great national divider. Despite his calls for bipartisanship, he has tactfully drawn a heavy line in the sand. Unfortunately, this line falls very far on the right end of the political spectrum. Obama doesn’t have to be bipartisan because his side of the playing field now incorporates most of America. He, helped by a number of far-right conservatives, has constructed a strong us-versus-them system, where many conservatives are afraid to affiliate with the Republican Party.
This has left a small nub of the political spectrum that still considers themselves to be Republicans. This group of stalwart Republicans has now moved from being one wing of many in a broad based Republican Party, to a new core in a much narrower party. While the individuals in this group generally have not changed their conservative values, they now have become a larger voice within the party. As they grow in power, so does their rejection of the moderate wings of the Republican Party. As we are seeing, greater numbers of people are continuing to flee the Republican umbrella.
While I often agree with certain ideologies and policies proposed by the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs, these are not the public faces we want representing the Republican Party. These people should be strong members of the party, preaching to the choir, and rallying the base. They should do their work from the inside. Ann Coulter is never going to convince a liberal, or even a moderate, to vote Republican. While her ideas might often be sound, her delivery and presentation is one that pushes people away. Her methods are superb when rallying the people that agree with her, but ineffectual in forming a broad coalition under the Republican banner.
As the Republican leadership refuses to distance themselves from these individuals, we drive more of the moderate Republicans and independents across Obama’s line in the sand and into the hands of the Democrats. The Republican Party has to replicate exactly what Obama has done. We have to push the line back towards Obama, stealing the middle to support the conservative values that the Republican Party once stood for. Most of American does not support the intense liberalism of the left; however, they do not want to be associated with a party that is perceived to be narrow-minded, intolerant, and out-of touch. Unfortunately, that is where the Republican Party is headed these days.
It is unfortunate that when leading Republicans make this point, they are silenced, ridiculed, and outcast from the nub-Republican Party. Obviously, there are serious issues going on within the Republican Party. Any American can see that. We need to open discussions on how to best rebuild the big-tent Republicanism that existed under the likes of Reagan and Kemp. We have to stop shrinking the party, and begin to grow it. New voices of reason need to speak out and challenge the current voices of the party. While the hardcore Republicans talk in the language of Reagan and heap praise upon him, they have all-but failed the party that he helped create.
This is not a criticism of conservative ideals, or even a disparagement of specific wings of the Republican Party; but a call to grow the base, not shrink it. There are meaningful debates that happened within the party. Let’s keep those debates within the Republican Party, rather than between a nub-Republican Party and expanded Democrat Party. The path to electoral success is not through vitriolic small-mindedness, but through a broad appeal to the logical, conservative ideals held by most of America.