COLUMN: Long live the GOP

The GOP is dead.

According to economist Robert Reich, the GOP no longer resembles a viable political party in the United States.

Chief among the reasons for this is in-fighting between different groups, Reich said. These include libertarians who are opposed to any and all government regulation, Evangelicals who take hard-right stances on social issues and wealthy Wall Street types who hope to use the government to advance their own interests.

Let’s look at what happened to the Republican Party in this election cycle.

The Tea Party was short-lived in its scope, as evidenced by the 2012 election, in which it won only four of the 16 candidates for the Senate it sponsored during that election, according to Infoplease. However, the movement ultimately left a message for the party that continues to exist to this day.

That message is to be wary and distrustful of government at all costs.

As a result, members of the Tea Party oppose any government spending on almost everything, including major health care programs.

Two events contributed to this wariness. When President Obama and Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and bailed out the financial industry following the 2008 recession, the Tea Party was convinced the government had to be reformed.

The only way to do that, they reasoned, was taking the government back into the will of the people, à la the Patriots dumping tea into the Boston harbor in 1773.

This message still resonates today because it reflects an angry and restless Republican electorate dissatisfied both with the Democratic Party and moderate Republicans.

Much has been and continues to be written about businessman Donald Trump’s foray into politics in his crusade for the Republican nomination.

But I will give him credit where credit is due. He was able to take advantage of the current electorate’s mood in a way few other Republican candidates, if any at all, have been able to do so far.

Take Jeb Bush.

In any other election year, he would’ve been a perfect fit for the Republican nomination. He had a home-base advantage in the crucial swing state of Florida, due to his previous experience as governor there for eight years.

He is the son and brother of former presidents. He was the living, breathing face of the Republican establishment, and was able to raise roughly $150 million for his campaign, according to Politico.

Yet, in a cycle where anything resembling previous experience with the government was a sign of weakness, Bush paled in comparison to Trump, who has never held public office before and has largely self-funded his campaign.

When the establishment candidate bows to a major party outsider in the race for the highest office in the U.S., one knows shifts in the political party are coming.

What’s next in the mainstream GOP’s evolution, if it exists after this cycle?

Only time will tell. But I hope the outsiders can consolidate themselves with the moderates in the party, for its own future’s sake.

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