Here in Delaware the GOP is fractured. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, or the biggest fool on the face of the planet.
Now there are many different views on what has caused this fracturing. No matter the cause, the question is, can the Delaware GOP mend the fences in time to win elections in 2012?
To answer that question however, it is important to know the cause of the fracturing.
There has been for quite sometime two distinct factions within the GOP in Delaware. The one might be described as the right side of the party. This faction will be more inclined to be concerned with the so-called social issues. These are issues that effect our society as a whole. These can and do include crime, education, immigration and yes abortion and homosexual marriage.
This does not mean that this faction of the GOP is not concerned with fiscal issues. Most are. In fact I personally have never met a social conservative who is a fiscal liberal, or even a fiscal moderate. At least those whom I have spoken with who identify themselves as socially conservative, would also identify themselves as fiscally conservative.
On the other side of the GOP, or the left of the party, you have voters who are more motivated by fiscal issues only. They seem to care little about the issues that motivate the right of the party. In fact in many cases they will tell those on the right of the GOP, that it is a losing strategy to speak out on these social issues. They would have the party, the candidates, and the rank and file focus solely on fiscal issues.
Unlike the more conservative right of the Delaware GOP who share the fiscal concerns of the more moderate and in some cases, more liberal members of the party, those moderate and liberal members do not share the social concerns of the right of the GOP.
Now these factions have existed within the Delaware GOP for some time. They have worked together for the most part and have even had some moderate success.(No pun intended)
I believe that you can trace the decline of the Delaware GOP’s success to the increase of control by the more moderate faction within the party. You can also see as the moderate faction has increased its control, that the more conservative faction has become more and more discontented,and unwilling to sit quietly by.
As the moderate faction solidified its control of the party leadership, it pushed the conservative faction further to the outside of the circle.
Also as the party moderated its views on issues, it lost its identity. It has become diet Democrat. This has also lead the more conservative members of the party to seek out candidates that more closely represent their own views. Of course like any group that has been in control of anything, the moderate leadership has fought against the move to the right of the party. In many cases, to the detriment of the party.
The moderate liberal faction within the Delaware GOP will tell you that it is the fault of the “crazy right-wing nut jobs”. When in fact it is the fault of both factions, for being unwilling to find common ground.
No discussion of the fracturing off the Delaware GOP would be complete without pointing out that the 2010 election cycle saw the fracturing rise to a new level. And while the Christine O’Donnell campaign is seen as the reason for that fracturing by many, it was not the cause of the fracturing. It was a result of the fracturing. The conservative faction within the Delaware GOP saw the O’Donnell campaign as a chance to move the party to the right. And it did. It remains to be seen if we can hold the rightward move. To do so we must show the ability to groom candidates and to win elections. (Please, for those who feel the need to defend Ms. O’Donnell, or to attack her, recognize that this post is not about her and I may decide to edit any long-winded comments that attempt to rehash that campaign).
I believe that the Delaware GOP still has a real chance to make up lost ground. But to do so, both factions within the party will need to bury the hatchet of past wars within the party. This means that those who felt left out by the moderate leadership should not seek revenge. It also means that the moderate faction should not seek revenge for being unseated.
In short, we need to work together. This will actually be harder for the moderate faction since the conservatives already agree on the fiscal issues. The moderates will have to be willing to not only address the social issues, but to actually work for and support candidates that do.
So how do we accomplish this fence mending? Well, we will need leaders that recognize the challenges facing the party in bringing the factions together. But ultimately, it is not the GOP leadership, nor the candidates who will pull the party together. I believe it is the voters who will have the best chance of mending the fences. They do this by demanding well-rounded candidates. They do this by talking to their neighbors and by coming out to party events and speaking with potential candidates. But not listen to the leadership or the candidates. The voters must be heard. They need to tell the leadership and the candidates what it is they want.