Looks like the Republican Party has a long road ahead.
Gov. Scott Walker’s exit from the Republican presidential race seemed shocking enough. The once-frontrunner for the GOP nomination surprised people by suspending his campaign the other week, even though he was one of the more likely candidates -- a “real” one, if you will. Yes, Walker was a tested Republican governor from a Democratic state, a seasoned fighter for the “conservative brand.” He fought the unions and a statewide recall, and was ready to do the Koch Brothers’ bidding on a national level. For a while it seemed he would. But this GOP contest ain’t your granddaddy's primary! Only anti-establishment non-politicians like Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are topping the polls! Republican voters are sick of the GOP’s ruling class and the Tea Party movement is leading the fight! Huzzah! Of course, on the losing end of this trend are the same stale candidates you’d expect the establishment to love -- Walker, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, etc. Walker hinted at this in his exit speech with a swipe at Trump, encouraging his former rivals to also drop out so “voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner.”
That same anti-anti-establishment sentiment was also recently heard after House Speaker John Boehner’s shocking resignation, as Boehner was not shy about his disdain for ultra-conservative groups and House members who wanted him out of the Speakership. Referring to them as “false prophets,” Boehner felt these politicians and groups kept pushing for things that were never going to happen, and his way of dealing with them certainly earned him their disdain as well. In fact, several Tea Party and “Freedom Caucus” members led fights to oust Boehner as Speaker over the past few years. Naturally, these members and other Tea Party figures have since hailed Boehner’s resignation as a step in the right direction, and now some groups are targeting Sen. Mitch McConnell as well -- Boehner’s equally ineffective counterpart in the Senate. Although Boehner tearfully hinted that the Pope’s recent visit is what helped him make up his mind to resign, it’s apparent the move was also a way to appease these ultra-conservative members of the House so another government shutdown could be avoided in the coming months ahead.
The main thing is that -- as Bob Dylan once stated -- “the times, they are a-changin’.” A governor with a conservative record (whether you approve of it or not) is no longer a viable presidential candidate in 2016. Neither, for that matter, are several other governors with conservative records. Heck, neither are sitting Senators! Nope. In 2016, the American electorate has had it with career politicians who are still doing the same old song-and-dance. Granted, Walker’s campaign was also poorly managed and had many internal problems, but this doesn’t change the fact that Walker once led in several areas where Donald Trump is now king -- and Trump has been anything but pro-establishment. Boehner faced a similar challenge from an uncontrollable conservative wing of his party, as he represented the establishment and was portrayed as a leader who conceded and settled with the Democrats. So like Walker, he had to step aside.
From here, it’s obviously hard to say what will happen. With Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential bids it was apparent an ideological battle was brewing in the GOP, with more libertarian stances possibly coming to the forefront of their platform. But now it’s clear Rand Paul has failed to carry on his father’s banner and Trump could even nab his followers. This begs the question: do Republicans want to reinvent what they represent, or just do it louder and more brashly? Yes, the Republican party is going to fight plenty of battles in the days and years ahead -- but none of them will be as interesting as the one it’ll be fighting within itself.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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