Over the weekend, the New York Times ran an opinion piece titled For Republicans, Mounting Fears of Lasting Split. And they said that like it is a bad thing.
At family dinners and New Year’s parties, in conference calls and at private lunches, longtime Republicans are expressing a growing fear that the coming election could be shattering for the party, or reshape it in ways that leave it unrecognizable.
While warring party factions usually reconcile after brutal nomination fights, this race feels different, according to interviews with more than 50 Republican leaders, activists, donors and voters, from both elite circles and the grass roots.
Never have so many voters been attracted to Republican candidates like Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who are challenging core party beliefs on the economy and national security and new goals like winning over Hispanics through immigration reform.
Rank-and-file conservatives, after decades of deferring to party elites, are trying to stage what is effectively a people’s coup by selecting a standard-bearer who is not the preferred candidate of wealthy donors and elected officials.
What the authors are actually describing are several intertwined events that they don’t seem to understand.
First and foremost, Trump AND Cruz are not challenging the GOP’s core beliefs. Trump, despite his history as a typical Blue State Republicrat, has yet to make any demand that the GOP change its platform to accommodate his past beliefs. He may do that in the future, but for the time being he has engaged in a very un-orthodox presentation of typically Republican positions. Cruz has not challenged the GOP’s beliefs either. What he has challenged is the status quo of calculated failure that has enabled the GOP political class to rake in money and perquisites while screwing middle and lower income families for fun and profit.
The split is actually between those who are comfortable and those who are hurting. Between those who want to see the conservative agenda the GOP claims to embrace enacted and those who believe in nothing wanting to do nothing for fear of upsetting their apple cart.
The divide was evident at a recent Greenville, S.C., gathering of bankers and lawyers, reliable Republicans who shared tea and pastries and their growing anxieties about where their party is going. In a meeting room near the wooded shore of Furman Lake, the group of mostly older white men expressed concern that their party was fracturing over free trade, immigration and Wall Street. And they worried that their candidates — mainstream conservatives like Jeb Bush — were losing.
“It’s all really hard to believe that decades of Republican ideas are at risk,” said Barry Wynn, a prominent Bush donor at the meeting.
Why do we think this might be? How about people who were put out of work, businesses that were shattered, and homes that were lost during the 2008 financial crisis while the people whose greed and absence of either good judgment or common sense were declared too big to fail? How about Americans who try to obey the laws seeing illegal immigrants rewarded with in-state tuition? How about legal Americans workers in good-paying jobs like construction seeing themselves pushed aside by contractors using illegal immigrant labor?
[Arizona Senator John] McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and [SC Senator Lindsey] Graham, who was a presidential candidate until last month, said they would honor the will of the voters and support any eventual nominee. But Mr. Graham said the severity and impact of the party split would ultimately depend on whether a Republican won the presidency.
“If Trump or Cruz wins the White House, then my side of the party has to re-evaluate who we are, what we stand for, and I’d be willing to do that,” Mr. Graham said. “But if Trump or Cruz loses the presidency, would their supporters re-evaluate their views on immigration and other issues that would grow the party? If they do that, we can come back together. If they don’t, the party probably splits in a permanent way.”
What is interesting in both GOP establishment quotes is the bitching about a rejection of the GOP stand on immigration. As Trump and Cruz and Rubio are all against ILLEGAL immigration and all want to secure the border before moving on what to do with illegals already here, it gives away the GOP game of keeping a large pool of off-the-books workers and modern day indentured servants available to meet the interests of the Chamber of Commerce.
The split Graham fears is one between the people who vote Republican and the people who financially benefit from a Republican president or Congress. As we’ve seen, giving the GOP a House and Senate majority has done f***-all for the average American. It has done even less for the people who dipped into the family paycheck to contribute to candidates in the expectation that some of the things we wanted would at least receive an honest effort. What we’ve seen is Harry Reid call the shots in the Senate, the budget sequester thrown aside, ObamaCare funded, and nothing at all done to penalize either Reid or the administration for its intransigence.
This split is also a reflection of the end of an era in which proles were told by their betters who to vote for. We’ve seen this particular phenomenon broach with regularity since 2010 with the surprise defeat of Eric Cantor and the shameful treatment of Chris McDaniel by the GOP establishment.
If Cruz or Trump loses it will be solely because the GOP establishment, represented by people like Graham and McCain, decided it was more profitable and advantageous to work to elect Hillary Clinton.