CNHI News Service

Opinion

February 18, 2013

Will GOP survive current divisions?

—  

Somebody asked me the other day if I thought the Republican Party was about to split apart.

 

I said no. It was an assessment based on history.

Creating a new political party in America is a challenging process. They occasionally crop up, but they don’t last.

Typically, these parties appeal to a relatively narrow portion of the population. But under America’s traditional two-party system, Republicans and Democrats survive mainly by attracting a large cross section of citizens.

The world is full of political parties with narrow focus. They frequently are referred to as minor or fringe parties. Only in those countries where a multitude of political parties exists — and coalitions must be forged to govern — do they have even a chance of sharing power.

The issue involving the Republican Party is a rift that’s forming between what could best be described as traditionalists and the tea party insurgents. Right now, members on both sides of this divide are taking pot shots at each other — mostly by blaming their GOP brethren for costing the party success in the most recent election.

The 2012 vote mostly maintained the status quo in the nation, but it came at a time when many Republicans were anticipating substantial gains. It has led to an element of soul searching and intraparty bashing.

On one side you have strident believers who argue that having Mitt Romney at the head of the ticket was a disaster. For them, Romney was too moderate and indecisive, causing many conservatives to stay home on Election Day.

On the other side you have pragmatic political types who claim some of the hardline candidates selected in GOP primaries caused many voters to recoil in November, giving key races — particularly in the Senate — to the Democrats.

So who’s right?

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