Thursday, May 2, 2013

Will Rand Paul Tear Apart the GOP?

Bill Scher wrote in The Week that a Rand Paul nomination might end up destroying the Republican Party:

Republicans have long characterized their coalition as a "three-legged stool" of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national security conservatives. Paul's vision of a "reluctant" foreign policy saws one of those legs clean off. We saw a preview of how deep the rift could be when McCain called Paul and his allies "wacko birds" for filibustering President Obama's CIA nominee to protest drone policy.

More important but less noticed was McCain's April 18 speech to the Center for New American Security that threw down the gauntlet against the Paul forces, lashing out against isolationism and calling for "a new Republican internationalism." He concluded by lamenting, "There are times these days when I feel that I have more in common on foreign policy with President Obama than I do with some in my own party."

Where might the "new Republican internationalists" go if Paul wins this intra-party battle? Considering that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton helped engineer the U.N.-backed military coalition that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and reportedly pushed Obama to directly arm the Syrian resistance, it's not hard to envision a "Republicans for Hillary" campaign if the alternative is Rand Paul.


A Paul nomination would bring with it, at minimum, the risk of Republicans going the way of the Whigs. The dueling speeches between Paul and McCain represent an enormous divide over bedrock principles of foreign policy that may not be easily tolerated, especially if the 2016 campaign is fought against the backdrop of a pressing foreign policy crisis.

And if any contemporary politician might be willing to bet his political legacy on supplanting a wayward Republican Party with a new party, it would be John McCain. He has long branded himself a "Teddy Roosevelt Republican."

My first reaction is simply that Bill Scher knows nothing of the Republican Party.  He is the executive editor of which has a tagline "where the left is right and the right is wrong".  All he knows about the GOP comes from MSNBC and the unwashed hoodlums at Occupy events.  Can anyone picture anyone other than Lindsey Graham, some Commentary Magazine writers and maybe Jen Rubin going with John McCain?

Yes, the GOP is a 3 legged stool, made up of economic conservatives, social conservatives and national security conservatives, but these legs aren't equal.

If you look at this Gallup poll on what sets of issues are most important to Republican voters you see that 37% are driven by the size of government, 36% are driven by the economy, 15% by social issues and only 12% by national security/foreign policy.  And I'm sure some of those 12% were Ron Paul types who actually have a foreign policy view that is completely opposite to what John McCain espouses.  So we are probably only talking about less than 10% of the people who would even theoretically be at risk of bolting the party with a Rand Paul nomination.

But even that is way too high.  The three legs of the stool aren't equal nor are they mutually exclusive.  Economic conservatives aren't usually pro-abortion and social conservatives aren't usually okay with Obamacare.  Many who are national security conservatives are pro-life and want lower taxes and smaller government, to see them bolt and become Democrats, especially when the Democratic party is veering farther and farther to the left is just not going to happen.

Think about it, who was the nominee in 2012?  Mitt Romney.  He was someone who was definitely a big-government Republican thanks to RomneyCare and also was very wishy washy on social issues.  Based on the math that is the Gallup poll, that means he was a non-starter to 52% of Republican voters.  Yet the Party is still here.  If the Party can survive Romney, who is anathema to at least half the party, it can definitely survive Rand Paul, who really only offends a very small percentage of actual Republican voters (the % only seems high because the elites tend not to like him).  And my guess, it can also start to thrive again.  Imagine if we have a candidate who actually believes in something?  It seems ages since we've had one.

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