The GOP might have taken over Congress in the midterm elections last year, but party leaders know that to win the White House in 2016 they have to shake off the radical, tea party image that has infected their ranks.
“The leaders of the GOP, the people who tend to be referred to as ‘the establishment,’” wrote Elias Isquith for Salon, “fervently believe that in order to win in 2016 Republicans will have to convince voters that the party is once again what it was for much of the 20th century: safe, staid and, in a word, boring.”
As Isquith put it, the party is looking for a nominee “who reminds voters of a suburban accountant,” one who won’t scare off moderate Republicans and even conservative Democrats.
That’s where candidates like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush come in. While they might not be ideal, the GOP knows they have a better shot at the White House than an extreme right-winger like Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee.
But the fact that the GOP controls Congress could prove problematic. Isquith said,
“…while there are plenty of GOPers in Congress who care deeply about which party holds 1600 Pennsylvania, there are also more than a few who think they were elected to change Washington. They answer to conservative activists who will no longer trim their sails so a RINO [Republican In Name Only] can enjoy free flights on Air Force One.”
The issues that the ultra-conservative wing of the party want to address aren’t exactly popular with the rest of the country. Attacking Social Security, “arguably the most popular government program in US history,” and pushing a bill to dramatically cut the already miniscule federal funding for abortions aren’t exactly “what you’d expect to hear from that nice accountant next door,” said Isquith.
The GOP’s stances on the aforementioned issues, along with equal pay, race relations, gay rights, the definition of “legitimate rape,” and climate change aren’t likely to “[persuade] voters who’ve come to associate the Republicans with the Tea Party that the days of Eisenhower and George H. W. Bush have returned will be much easier said than done.”
All the Tea Party has managed to do is to drive a wedge into its own party, helping the GOP shoot itself in the foot on numerous occasions. And while their extreme right-wing rhetoric might help win elections in gerrymandered districts, it definitely won’t help the GOP pick up support from women, non-white voters, the LGBTQ community, and even members within its own rank come November 2016.
And for those of us on the Left, hopefully we can sit back and watch them continue to be their own worst enemy.