Thursday, April 8, 2010

What’s Happening to the Republican Party?

I just went through the archives of my own political blog ( and discovered that one blog entry I have been meaning to write for about 18 months now has never been posted. I’m now seeing what I had intended to write may have entered its end game.

Here’s a summary of my idea: I have no idea why the Republican Party has not split into several smaller parties. It’s made up of several conservative elements that, at best, have little in common: 1. There are the Fiscal/Small-Government/Anti-Tax Conservatives, who worry about the size of the government and the way it spends money. 2. There are the Anti-Abortion/Christian-Right Conservatives who worry about the morals of the country. 3. And there are the Big Business Conservatives who worry about government regulation stopping Wall St. from gambling with your money. The interesting thing to me has been that these three groups do not really have overlapping interests, and when the Republicans get into power they tend to ignore the interests of the first two kinds of Conservatives completely, even though they may voice agreement with them strenuously during campaigns. In fact, often the interests of the third kind of conservative are at total cross-purposes of the first kind (think of how Fiscal Conservatives and Big Business Conservatives each see bailouts and you will know what I am talking about.) I’ve been wondering when the first two groups would realize that the Republicans really don’t care about them at all, and are in fact simply using their votes at the ballot box to push the interests of the third group.

Well, I may be rather late with that idea. From one piece of news I saw this week, and some political signs I spotted yesterday on my way to drop my kids off at my mother’s for a few days, it seems to me that the Republican Party may in fact be in the process of splitting up.

Here’s the main news item that made me start to wonder about this:

…In recent weeks, a number of party officials — including Karl Rove, the former adviser to former President George W. Bush, and Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the party — have set up an independent committee to help Republican candidates this fall. Top Republicans said they have advised donors to send checks not to the Republican National Committee but to the committees financing Senate and House candidates.

-Adam Nagourney, “G.O.P. Squirms as Spotlight Focuses On Its Leader,” April 6th, 2010 The New York Times

When it becomes necessary for people to start donating to someone other than the leading committee of the party in order to get money to the candidates for political office representing that party, then you know there is trouble. And this article is dripping with it.

However, there were the political signs I saw on my way to my mom’s house yesterday that helped cement my feeling that the Republican Party is in its end-game before something big happens. I have to drive through part of the Central Valley of California to go from my Silicon Valley home up to my mom’s place up in the Sierra Mountain Range. I kept seeing these signs for former 11th District Representative Richard Pombo for Congress (19th District), and after I saw my second or third one I figured out why I kept looking at them. I expected them to say “Richard Pombo, Republican for Congress.” They didn’t. They state “Richard Pombo, Conservative for Congress.” (Emphasis added.) I decided to check his website today ( to see if maybe I got it wrong, but nope, there it is—Conservative for Congress. You can’t tell from his website, but as far as I can tell from the Wikipedia entry on him, it looks like he’s running for the Republican Primary, but he’s just too embarrassed to admit it.

So here’s how I see it: The Chairman of the RNC has been embarrassing the party pretty bad lately through his comments and actions (think “Bondage Club”), and pulling “The Race Card” whenever he gets called on it. The “Tea Partiers” and the “Birthers” are pulling the party in directions it doesn’t really want to go, namely into the Financial/Small-Government and Loopy-Racist directions instead of the comfortable and very well-financed Big Business zone. The big question now is if there is a Republican candidate that can ride in on a white horse and appear to be the binding force for the party, or whether it will simply continue to break up into its constituent parts.

And that’s a big “if” no matter how you look at it.

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