Monday, May 3, 2010

GOP Strife Evident As Candidates Move To The Right

I had found this interesting article by Charles Babington discussing the effect internal conflicts within the Republican Party are effecting policy, with members of the GOP shifting to the right to secure the conservative base in the face of stiff primary challenges.
Internal GOP politics are profoundly affecting major policies such as immigration, health care and deficit spending, as elected Republicans shift right to fend off challengers in primary elections.

The moves may leave a lasting imprint on society long after flashy political events, such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to abandon the GOP in hopes of winning a Senate seat, are minor memories. They show that conservative movements such as the tea party phenomenon are influencing the nation well ahead of the November elections.
Babington discusses the actions made by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. In both instances, the candidates experienced pressure from the far right. Brewer, once considered a moderate, moved farther right with her signing of the controversial immigration bill, and Grassley was cooperating with Democrats until he went back home and faced opposition from the party's far right, with conservative activists threatening challenge in the primary should Grassley continue negotiations. The end result was Grassley backing out of negotiations and the health care reform bill passing strictly along party lines.

The problem I see with these shifts is that these people are ignoring the majority of the population just to secure their positions of power by appealing to a majority.

Lets consider a simple example.

Say voters are equally divided among liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Liberals and conservatives will both have 33% of the vote while moderates will have 34%. If you appeal to to far right, you may secure 33% of the vote while effectively giving the opposition the liberal votes, but then what happens with the moderate votes? They will most likely get split and the winning party will have won by a small margin, but when you consider the style of the far right, it is an all-or-nothing game with them, and if they win, they will ignore both liberals and moderates, believing their small victory was a mandate to govern from the right.

Democrats have seemed to have been trying to court moderates for years while Republicans have given up on courting, and just flat out say they believe moderates desire conservative principles at the helm. The end result will be devastating. Just consider the GOP backlash for Charlie Crist. He is a conservative courting moderates. He saw that the GOP had moved farther right that he lost support from the far right, which had rallied behind Rubio. Now that Crist is out of the primary, Rubio is trying to state that he is a moderate too, even though his actions speak differently.

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