Talk of a third political party in the US, usually spoken out of frustration, has long caused heartburn for Republicans and has been pushed away as taboo. It seems, however, that the minority has become the majority. From a new Gallup poll, via the Hill:
The number of Republicans who said that a third political party was necessary was at an all-time high since Gallup first began tracking opinion on the issue in 2003. And while support for a third party has crept steadily upward in the GOP, for the first time, it represents a majority opinion.
People aren't happy with our government as a whole, not just the Democrats. This is not a new development, but it's a reality that Republicans need to grasp going into 2012. We won in 2010 because Democrats were power drunk and tone deaf, and Republicans were supposed to be different. Having a Democrat in the White House doesn't mean they get a pass to be a little less disastrous than Obama.
Republicans had an easy fight in 2009 and 2010. It was easy to be unified against Obamacare and Cap and Trade, but now it's a little harder than that. The fights are local and less sexy. That's good. That's healthy. What some of the governors are doing is inspiring. There's a lot more work to do, and it should be done within the party. It's been said that this is a takeover; it is not yet complete. Unfortunately, people are losing patience.
What this should be is a red flag to Republicans. They should embrace Tea Party nominees, and be ready to nominate someone who can win a primary among a majority who don't really care that they're Republicans. This doesn't have to be someone unelectable if the party does their job as well. It was a synergy between outside forces and the party that propelled Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul and others to victory. It can be done.
Republicans should be aware that they no longer have the shelter of having no majority. We have the House, and by next year we'll likely have the Senate. Ignoring the voters is what got the GOP in trouble in the first place. If they continue to believe they've got a majority safety net because they are Republicans they are mistaken. Most probably don't really want to form a third party, but they want the GOP to pick fights on Obamacare and spending; in other words, they want them to do what they said they would do. It's critical that Republicans recognize that it isn't hard to win Americans over - lead, cut spending, and make tough choices and they'll start to come back.