The Republican Party is having an identity crisis, and infighting continues to leave the party more fragmented than ever and out of touch with the majority of Americans.
One perfect example came Wednesday night from FOX News talk show host Bill O’Reilly when he made an attack on fellow conservative Michelle Bachmann. He accused her of “playing small ball” at the CPAC when she attempted a hit at the president about the perks he receives at the White House. O’Reilly even slipped in a jab at former President George W. Bush.
CPAC itself showcased just how much the Republicans’ internal battles have grown. Ultra-conservatives remain insular, shunning those who disagree with them. Two of the party’s popular governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, were not even invited. Their crime: compromising, being reasonable, and working with Democrats.
Extreme right-wing fractions contribute largely to the party’s dysfunction, prohibiting any chance of presenting a much-needed cohesive front to sell to voters, especially women and racial minorities. Again, at the CPAC, a Tea Party event on racism turned into chaos with a racially sparred shouting match and calls to shift the party’s appeal to Latinos drew boos from the crowd.
From Tea Partiers to the Liberty movement, Republicans have shown they can’t agree on much. Conservatives are too eager to excommunicate anyone who threatens the slightest act of ideological dissent. To be a viable party in the future, Republicans must figure out, as George H.W. Bush once awkwardly referred to, as “the vision thing.”
Ashley Wright is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.