Republicans hold more statehouses than the Democrats, and they could imaginably win the 2016 presidential election. Nevertheless, the future of the Republican Party is on thin ice, and the party knows it. Both major parties have serious problems to overcome, but the Republican dilemma is greater.
The Republican Party has become a very angry political party that has, over decades, abandoned its roots. It decided to ride the Tea Party tiger for political gain, and it now fears the consequences.
Republicans might fear Hillary, but they are far more scared of The Donald. The majority of Republicans (and just as importantly, independents) understand a Trump nomination would likely be disastrous for the party as well as the nation.
The problem is the majority does not control the party. This dilemma is a result of decades of political strategies that have placed the Grand Old Party on a precipice; the result of which requires it to step back or fall off. I take no delight in the GOP’s dilemma, for it does not bode well for the nation.
I’ve looked at the situation from several perspectives, and the problem can be summarized by GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham’s recent statements. “My party,” he said, “is … crazy.”
Though it was a stab at humor, Graham was communicating his concerns about his party’s future. Graham’s comments were directed toward the current race for the GOP presidential nomination and also attacked Sens. Cruz and Rubio.
Friends tell me they are scared of a Trump presidency, and I understand those fears. However, I always tell them that Ted Cruz would be far worse. Has anyone noticed that no member of Congress has endorsed the Texas senator?
Graham remarked that if anyone killed Cruz in the halls of the Senate and a trial were held there, he or she would be acquitted.
I have lesser concerns about Sen. Rubio but serious concerns nonetheless. A backbone and a memory would serve him well. Graham’s jokes about Rubio dealt with his inability to hold firm to a political position.
It is especially telling that Rubio won’t admit he was a member of the “Gang of Eight” that proposed realistic suggestions for immigration reform. That, of course, was before he realized the base of his party rejects anything resembling realistic reforms short of building Trump’s wall.
In my opinion, the Republican candidate who makes the most sense is Gov. Kasich. While he has shifted right of his own positions during the campaign, he remains the closest thing to a centrist in the GOP race.
Of course, that is his downfall in today’s Republican Party. Anything one inch to the left of a tea party position is problematic in the GOP of today.
How did a once proud party come to this point? There is no single answer to that question. There are, in fact, a number of causes, and I hope to address them in more detail in coming weeks.
Suffice it to say the Republican Party has changed. It’s not your grandfather’s political party anymore. It’s not even the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan. More obviously, and more importantly, it is not the party of Lincoln either.
This is a party that needs to recognize where it went wrong; how, in hopes of securing a majority of the electorate, it turned to a political strategy that altered its political philosophy.
It needs to learn that it has driven out not only social liberals but most of its moderates. It needs to return to its conservative base, for what it recognizes as conservatism now is something entirely different.
Michael Adkins is the former chair of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield.