The media loves to talk about it: Infighting in the Republican Party. And it seems too many within the Republican Party love to play right into the media’s scenario. Too often, Republicans enjoy fighting their own more than they do the real enemy: Democrats.
There are basically four main factions within the Republican Party today: traditional conservatives, TEA Party conservatives, moderate Republicans and Libertarian Republicans. There are some subsets and additional factions, but those are the four big ones. A couple of the main subsets are social conservatives and fiscal conservatives who are more liberal on social issues.
There are two main social issues that divide the party: abortion and now gay marriage. You have some pro-life folks who will never support a Republican who is pro-choice, even if they agree on most other issues. You have some pro-choice people who will never support pro-life Republicans even if they agree on most other issues. Gay marriage largely divides the moderate and Libertarian factions from the conservative factions. And for some, if you disagree on some of these key topics then you are labeled a bigot or perhaps the worst: a RINO (Republican in Name Only).That is the name most Republicans love to call other Republicans on the issues they disagree.
There are lots of names Republicans love to call other Republicans. If you are for a strong defense, then Libertarian Republicans love to call those Republicans “neo-cons,” which is neo conservative. If you believe the U.S. should not be involved anywhere in the world, then you are called a variation of “Ron Paul kook.” If you are pro-choice or for gay marriage then the conservatives will tag you with that RINO label and want you tossed out of the party. If you are a conservative, some moderates will call you a “wingnut.”
Some conservative Republicans would rather sit home than vote for a moderate Republican or RINO. Some moderates also would rather sit home than vote for a conservative. A good example of this is in the Illinois 10th Congressional District. Republican Bob Dold might still be a Congressman if a few more conservatives voted for him in 2012. Another good example is the Illinois governor race in 2010. Bill Brady might be running for re-election today if more moderate Republicans voted for him for governor. The moderateMark Kirk had 80,000 more votes than did conservative Brady in the Chicago collar counties. Brady lost the governor’s race by about 30,000 votes. Dold lost his re-election by just about 2,000 votes in 2012. Odds are Dold will win his rematch against the accidental and embarrassing Congressman Brad Schneider.
The Democrats used to have factions, but that has largely disintegrated in the last 20 years. Today, the Democratic Party largely consists of liberal and far left. There are very few moderate Democrats left anymore. The liberal and far left factions, while they don’t always agree, they agree enough that they get along. Unfortunately, that is not the case among Republicans.
Anyway, Republicans, can we PLEASE STOP THE INFIGHTING?? Republicans in Illinois – and increasingly Republicans nationally for the U.S. presidential election – cannot win if any of the four factions decide to sit out the race. We need each other. That is the bottom line.
It has become so ridiculous that me, a lifelong conservative Republican (even with a couple of friends referring to me as the “right-wing madman” over the years) has even been called a RINO by some conservatives because I have supported the ultimate of all RINOs: Sen. Mark Kirk. Do I agree with all of Sen. Kirk’s votes? Heck no. But I also realize that in Illinois, chances are a strong, solid conservative is not going to win statewide. And, I’d rather have Kirk’s 60 percent Republican vote than a Democrat’s 0 percent.
By the way, in recent years I have actively supported TEA Party favorite Republicans like Joe Walsh, traditional conservatives like State Rep. David Harris and State Sen. Matt Murphy, and recently I have even stumped for some Libertarian-minded Republicans. And I am actively supporting the re-election of middle-of-the-road Bob Dold to Congress. Politics aside, I have come to know Mr. Dold to be a man of strong character and decency. Following my unsuccessful run to become a Mt. Prospect trustee last spring, Dold called to express his best wishes for a campaign lost and to encourage me to not give up. When my dad passed away last October, he called to offer his condolences. But aside from those personal examples, Mr. Dold is respectful to all people. Sometimes we need to look beyond where someone stands on some issues and take notice of the individual.
There are some issues moderates believe in that I do not. There are some issues Libertarians favor that I do not. And in recent years I find myself moving toward Libertarians on a couple of issues. While my beliefs are solidly conservative, I am pragmatic enough to know that sometimes I am not always going to get what I want or the candidate I want. We will always have our disagreements, and that is fine. There is nothing wrong with disagreement. But when it comes to the end of the day, let’s put those disagreements aside and come together as Republicans. Let’s focus on the real enemy: the Democrats. And let’s win some elections!