No matter whether you are a moderate or conservative Republican, I would bet you felt good after the recent Republican debate on CNBC. I would bet you felt proud to be a Republican.
Now why is that?
You felt good because you saw Republicans such as Chris Christie and Ted Cruz actually agreeing for once. You saw Marco Rubio and Donald Trump attacking the media instead of each other. You saw Republicans actually united against something for the first time in a long time.
Since the debate, we have now gone back to Republican “politics as usual.” We started to hear about how Rubio is a RINO because he’s willing to work with the other side. We started to hear about how if you have an immigration policy any different than Donald Trump’s plan, you might as well be one of those liberals!
Those who think the Republican Party will thrive by trashing those who they don’t deem to be conservative enough couldn’t be further from the truth. The CNBC debate was proof that if those within the Republican Party work together, they can be a force to be reckoned with. As of now, it seems they are not.
Republicans have become too concerned about attacking their fellow Republicans instead of attacking the opposition. They have gotten away from the optimistic message of freedom and instead are focused on this pissing contest of who’s the most conservative.
Now that’s not to say the criticisms of “establishment Republicans” are not warranted or needed. The American people are understandably frustrated with Washington, and Republicans are understandably frustrated with their leadership in Washington. As one of those frustrated Republicans, I would make the case the tactics of division now being seen in the Republican Party is not healthy for the preservation of the party or the promoting of the conservative message.
Many of those who so ardently practice this divide and conquer tactic will point to Ronald Reagan as their cop out. This argument they make is essentially based around the fact Reagan ran against Gerald Ford in 1976, which did anger some in Washington. Although, in doing so they will conveniently ignore the fact Reagan largely followed his very own 11th Commandment during that campaign: ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.’ He bowed out of the race gracefully, keeping him on fairly good terms with the establishment.
The shift to more conservative political thinking in the 1980’s didn’t come about because of constant negativity and partisanship. It was big ideas and lofty goals. Republicans actually stood for something. They debated upon ideology and policy instead of what’s going to look good to the base in a few years during a presidential run. Since every candidate today thinks they are Ronald Reagan, they need to learn from Reagan. Reagan never alienated Republicans, instead he built a coalition of moderates, independents, and conservative Democrats.
President Reagan once said, “My 80-percent friend is not my 20-percent enemy.” You won’t often see this demonstrated among those in Washington today. We are Republicans. We are on the same team. We are working towards the same goal.
To put it in simple terms: “A house divided cannot stand.”