Republican extremism shows its detrimental effects on the party

Although Minnesotans didn’t have to hear any political ads for the Senate, the House, or the Presidency, the results of last week’s elections sent waves through the nation’s political atmosphere. What has become evident in 2012 and again in 2013 is how damaged the Republican brand has become. Democrats are dominating battleground states and even Republicans are distancing themselves from the Tea Party’s take-the-government-hostage tactics. It seems Republicans are facing an identity crisis.

Historically, fixing a divided party is challenging. After the Civil War, Democrats campaigned for more than forty years before they got another one of their own in the Presidency. This was partially a result of Democrats ignoring key signs of demographic changes; they were too busy brooding over Reconstruction. The Democrats were also plagued by the fact that radical groups supported them. These groups were endemic to only a few pockets of the country but still held sway for national elections. This situation is all too reminiscent of the Republican party today.

It’s no surprise the Republicans chose to ally with the early Tea Partiers, but the contentious political group isn’t what it used to be. The Tea Party started out as middle-class Americans protesting high taxes, federal overspending and government accountability. But today the Tea Party has radicalized and now gets much of its funding from corporations and lobbyists. Their controversial decision to shutdown the government has led many Republicans to question their affiliation with the party.

Though Republicans may want the Tea Party out of their camp, a passive dissolution of the Tea Party is unlikely. The Tea Party gains its credibility from Republicans, not the other way around. If divorce occurs, the Republicans will be the one’s filing the paperwork. Republicans leaving their own party to restore their values and build a better voting base may seem insane, but before you scroll down to the comments section, remember there is historical precedent for this.

In the years leading up to the American Civil War, the Republican Party was formed from a conglomerate of frustrated Free-Soilers, Northern Democrats, and Abolitionists. Theodore Roosevelt left the Republicans to form the Bull Moose Party in 1912, and though both of these examples had vastly different results it’s important to note that today around 60% of Americans are in favor of having a third major party added to the mix.

As previously stated, one of the key factors for future will be changing demographics. The big question revolves around the growing Hispanic population. Though many Hispanics agree with Republican values, few vote for Republicans. And Republicans successful at courting Hispanic voters win their elections. The Tea Party’s extreme stances on immigration and education reform have caused many to question whether any Hispanics will vote for a candidate that has a track record of supporting Tea Party policies.

As per the usual the logistical issues pop up once one considers money. If separation occurs within the Tea Party, the aforementioned vast resources given by corporations and lobbyists will be spread unequally. The seceding contingent would have to largely rebuild both their campaigning base and their voting block, though new statistics show that a division between the Republicans and the Tea Party may convince many independents and minorities to move to the “New Republican” camp.

When you get down to the brass tacks, the Republicans need to adapt or die. They can attempt to keep going with the help of the Tea Party and their monetary assets, but this is likely to only further alienate the very people they need in order to get elected. Ironically in order to preserve the trust of the American people, the Republicans that were founded on the principles of a unified government, may need to secede from their own party.