Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not Over Yet

We've been talking about this often lately. And we've been doing so because it's having a profound impact on American politics and policy. Of course, we're talking about the G-O-TEA civil war that's ripping the Republican Party apart.

Last night, we saw the culmination in another round of battles. But this time, the 21st Century Know Nothings suffered some setbacks. Their ideal candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, lost his race for Virginia Governor. Their worst nightmare of a candidate, Bill de Blasio, won his race for New York City Mayor. Their latest cause celebre, Dean Young, lost his primary for a Congressional seat in Alabama.

And to add insult to injury, their most loathed Republican, Chris Christie, was easily reelected as New Jersey Governor. And already, DC pundits are chatting up a storm over Christie's 2016 Presidential Campaign that hasn't even started yet (or has it?). So does this mark the beginning of the end of the G-O-TEA as we've come to know it?

Not so fast. Earlier this morning, Mother Jones' David Corn weighed in with a reminder of the bigger picture. Perhaps last night was indeed a turning point. But even if it is, the G-O-TEA Culture Warriors won't be going down without more fights.

The Republican Party is now as divided as any party has been in modern times. The Democratic Party underwent a painful division during the Vietnam War. The conflict between peaceniks and hawks led to an actual riot in 1968 (with the help of the Chicago police). But that split was over one policy disagreement, though quite a large one, not a question of fundamental purpose. The GOP of today is beset by foundational issues—and more than one fracture.

For decades, GOPers have described the Republican national coalition as a stool of three legs: national security Republicans, business Republicans, and socially conservative Republicans. At the moment, all three legs have serious cracks. The McCain hawks shudder in horror at Rand Paul's neo-isolationism. Corporate Rs cannot believe that tea partiers place a desire to kill the government ahead of economic stability. And religious-right GOPers fret that libertarian and demographics-minded Republican strategists want to throttle back on the cultural warfare that alienates independent, young, moderate, and suburban voters.

Each of the three legs are wobbly. Still, most of the passion in Republican circles these days is with the coalition of disrupters and cultural traditionalists. As Lee learned at Chancellorsville, it's not just the numbers of troops you have; it's how you use them. And no one on the right is making better use of field soldiers than Cruz, Limbaugh, DeMint, and the rest. The elections of New Jersey and Virginia will not alter the overall dynamics of the Republican civil war. And the GOP's Gettysburg has yet to come. That battle may ensue in 2014 or wait until 2016. But for now— certainly not after the skirmishes in New Jersey and Virginia— there's no sign that such a conflagration will be avoided.

So it's not over yet. Even Nevada's own Dean Heller, Joe Heck, and Brian Sandoval have implicitly admitted this with their recent actions. And so has Chuck Muth.

So please stay tuned. The Great G-O-TEA Civil War of 2013 will likely spill into 2014. And we still don't know yet when it will finally be over.

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