Paul Schwartzman with the Washington Post opines on what we’ve all seen and all recognize:
A bitter source of the conflict — one almost certain to ignite renewed debate as 2016 approaches — is whether the state GOP will select a presidential candidate in a primary or at a convention, a process likely to influence whether the winner is a centrist or a right-wing Republican.
Virginia’s GOP has not won a statewide race in six years, a streak that Republicans partly attribute to the infighting. The conflict flared in full public view last year during a rancorous Republican primary in which a largely unknown tea party activist, David Brat, vanquished then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
A united party, strategists say, is required to build a broad network of support, enlist a squadron of campaign workers and raise the necessary funds to compete in a state in which Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) presides.
Of course, the last thing we need among Virginia Republicans is unity.
What we need is diversity.
Everyone instinctively knows this, and those who don’t are quickly getting an education via experience. The person that agrees with you 80% of the time is not a 20% heretic — so goes the aphorism. We are a party cobbled together from social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, 2nd Amendment advocates, libertarians, the liberty movement, evangelicals and Catholics, small businesses, and homeschoolers.
Our interests rarely if ever synchronize save on one point: individual freedom beats collective action every time… and we want to be left alone so that we can prosper in a free society.
How hard is this? Well… in a day and time where it seems the federal (and state) government has more and more control and involvement in our day to day lives? Everything… and that’s the problem for the conservative movement as a whole. We can’t pull the plug on 80 years of socialism overnight, yet at the same time what stands today cannot maintain itself. Solutions abound from caging the Leviathan, to taming it, to outright starving it out on its own accord as the federal debt piles on higher and higher.
…and so we squabble.
G.K. Chesterton once aptly observed: “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.” In a nutshell, that’s what has impacted Republicans nationwide (forget statewide) over the last decade. In the effort to do something — anything — to fix things, we have allowed the space for every social climber, malcontent, and huckster to make a buck (or a name) off of the passion of the grassroots.
The secret is simple. The road to “unity” isn’t worth travelling… because it’s not there. To wit:
“You can do it without Virginia, but it makes the task substantially more difficult,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. Ayres predicted that intraparty feuding would dissipate with the emergence of a GOP nominee.
“No candidate from a particular faction of the Republican Party is going to win the nomination — no one faction is large enough,” he said. “Consequently, despite animosity and disagreements, each faction needs the other to be successful.” (emphasis added)
The solution isn’t unity — it’s diversity, learning to get along with your neighbor again, and quit treating every disagreement as a form of heresy.
No one faction of among Virginia Republicans is large enough, folks. Learn to live along and get along with ostensible friends… or learn to enjoy minority status for the next 20 years.
UPDATE: RedRVA over at Virginia Virtucon (what is it with the return of pseudonyms?) chimes in:
You have to take a step back and ask whether or not the divide among Republicans is as bad as the Washington Post makes it out to be because this is coming from the Washington Post, which has done more to elect Democrats in Virginia than the Democratic Party of Virginia itself.
But a divide is there. And both sides need to figure out how to work together and quit fighting, suing, slating, and out “Conservativing” each other, or the Republican Party in Virginia is going to be in the statewide wilderness for a generation at least.
Well stated on both counts.
UPDATE x2: Steve Albertson over at The Bull Elephant offers his US$0.02 and ends it on a high note:
After you set aside the whipped-up tribal rivalries, you realize you already have a lot in common with the so-called “tea party extremist” sitting across from you, or the so-called “establishment RINO” sitting next to you…this is the diversity of opinion Shaun Kenney praises here. Just don’t allow yourself to be used or fooled, as the Post has, by the tactics to gain control employed by those whose livelihoods depend on deceiving you into thinking that the ideological gap between you and your fellow Republicans is a lot wider than it actually is.
Not because I was mentioned in the slightest… but because whipping up the internal fissures works for those trying to make a buck off of the passions of the conservative movement (or for those actively trying to destroy Republicans of every stripe and background).
Don’t fall into that trap. Well stated.