Thursday, October 9, 2008

GOP Party Division

Both Save the GOP and now Kritofer at Race42008 have made the same point -- the GOP is divided into certain factions with the biggest two being the following --
Those who just try to get elected
Those who really care about ideals
They are absolutely correct. Their details are different and fuzzy, but the general idea's the same. Here's the general concept on the election only Republicans, or Power Republicans. They care mostly about power and about being in charge. They tend to come from old money and aren't very ideologically based. These are the people who say that folks can be "principled until the primary, after that you're a Republican." That's not the case for everyone, I for one have voted for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, independents, and Conservatives (CPNYS) for public office when I felt their platform, background, and their ideas are the best for the job. Principles shouldn't go out the window just because the primary is over and you shouldn't grit your teeth and vote for a sorry excuse for a Republican who's only in it for the chance to get elected and for the power the office entails. These guys platform sway with the tides, or at least their votes do, utilizing wedge issues like embryonic stem cell research or same-sex marriage as moral crusades to shore up votes amongst those who find the practices morally unappealing. Examples of Power Republicans? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, Dennis Hasteret, Nelson Rockefeller, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Joseph Bruno. They don't care about ideology, they care about seeing more of their people with R's after their name in office and retaining that power base, or in the case of Ann Coulter, they care about selling more books.

Who are these others? The party members with the principles? Sadly, they've been out of power for quite a while. When the GOP rose to power in the House and Senate, they rose on the coattails of Power Republicans. The others vary depending on who you ask, but I'll divide them into three categories -- Paleocons, Principled Realists, and Movement Conservatives. We'll tackle them individually.

Paleocons are the first, these are the small government at any cost types. They believe that the best government is that which governs least to an extreme degree. What do I mean? They are the types of Republicans who followed Ron Paul and want most things back in the state's hands, minimal government interference on business or social issues, and an have a strong isolationist bent. They like a foreign policy that's limited in scope to trade, border defense, and striking back when struck. They'd be fine going into Afghanistan after the Taliban and Bin Laden attacked us, but they opposed the Iraq war. They support lower taxes and oppose any and all subsidies. These are the pork busters, entitlement busters, and the minimum wage haters. They oppose judges overturning state mandates and are generally stricter in their interpretation of the Constitution. These are the principled libertarians who want to live within the GOP because of it's history with strong Paleocons. The list of Paleocons include Calvin Coolidge, Ron Paul, Barry Goldwater, Barry Goldwater Jr, and Gary Johnson.

The next category are the Principled Realists. They've come to the realization that the mushy middle is the best course of action. Sure, they lean to the right on most issues, but being smack in the middle will help the most people with a solution, they feel, will address everyone's concerns the most adequately. They did not necessarily have an opinion on how the War in Iraq started, but now realize that we need to follow a realistic policy before we withdraw. They don't want immediate withdrawal, but they don't want to be there forever. They want a cohesive plan to win this war, akin to the one George Pataki outlined in early 2007. The Principled Realists believe that the middle is the best course for America and don't support it to garner more votes, they genuinely believe in this "practical approach" to the major issues facing America. Principled Realists have had some electoral success among the Republican Party, including the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, George Pataki, Colin Powell, and Arlen Spector.

The third is the group that many of the right-leaning blogosphere love, the movement conservatives. These are the types that tend to be federalist leaning, but still socially conservative on certain issues. When it comes to abortion, they support the overturning of Roe v. Wade for religious or moral reasons in addition to Constitutional grounds. When it comes to the other great moral issues, they tend to focus on the state's role as opposed to the federal government's role. These are the type that hate pork, attack wasteful spending, opposed the bailout, and still support traditional values. The difference between these types and the "Power Republicans" is that they don't use values voting as political leverage. Movement conservatives like Pat Toomey and Mike Pence don't push moral crusades against same-sex marriage, but instead push moral crusades against corrupt government officials, wasteful spending, and judges doing far more than just judging. They oppose embryonic stem cell research partially because of the moral objection, but also because they don't feel it's the government's place to spend that money. Their moral crusades tend focus on the checkbooks of the American people, just as the Paleocon audience does. The difference? Social issues tend to mean more to the Movement Conservatives on a state by state level and a more hawkish foreign policy is usually supported over the more reserved one of the Paleocons. Movement conservatives include the likes of Mark Harris, Mike Pence, Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, and Eric Cantor.

Where does John McCain fall on this spectrum? He doesn't. McCain is the exception that makes the rule. He falls in with the movement conservatives and the principled realists, depending on the issue. He's genuine in his views as well. What McCain does is he bridges the gaps between these two groups and could potentially unite them. With Palin as his running mate, McCain brought back in the movement conservatives who were afraid he was not one of them and that he was too much of a "RINO," or in our spectrum a principled realist. I like that McCain has a realist bent. I like that he's got a conservative bent. If McCain is able to get to the White House, things in the GOP are going to shake up. The highest elected person in the GOP will have gotten there without the help of the Power Republican crowd, in fact partially in spite of them.

Say what you will about the other candidates, but Giuliani did try to mold himself after Bush a little too much, so did Huckabee. Between Giuliani and Romney, Bush's army of campaign consultants had taken over their campaigns keeping the Power Republicans in the loop. McCain fired all the Power Republicans at first and reorganized his campaign to tailor his own needs early on. This is not to say that Giuliani or Romney are Power Republicans, in fact I don't think either of them are, but that's who they were surrounded by. McCain did not. McCain won the primary in spite of the power brokers who had been running things for years. If he loses, they'll take right back over saying, "See, you need us to win." But if he win...the GOP will not be the same.

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