Tradtionalist v. Reformist: The battle for the party

The Republican Party is in something of a predicament, one which is difficult to define. All that the party does know is that they are losing power and at warp speed.

Some have said this is occurring because the party has abandoned its principles, that the second term of Bush has been more of a spending spree and had less of an emphasis on classic conservative values.

But some are even beginning to call these values into question. Is cutting taxes still enough in our globalized economy?

It is a battle between the reformists who claim conservatism was fine for the 1970s but needs to be changed, and the traditionalists who have dug their heels into the ground, saying, “If we die, we die in our boots.”

Interestingly enough, the problem has not been so much with conservative principles as it has been with those who espouse their values.

The most notable traditionalists are the conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Limbaugh alone commands a strong ten million listeners to his program. Unfortunately for him, ten million people is a relativly small number in the broader spectrum of registered voters in the United States.

Limbaugh and Hannity, while energizing their listeners, are extremely polarizing figures.

It is as if your church’s pastor was saying all the right things, but in all of the horribly wrong ways.

Individuals like Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin have also commanded a great deal of respect among traditional conservatives, but once again they are the poster children of partisan politics who are, more often than not, calling everyone who disagrees with them a socialist, a terrorist sympathizer, or even worse, French.

Some traditionalists have even begun to think of a possible Palin candidacy in 2012, claiming that she was the one who energized their party’s base. Did they not look at the exit polls which put her at over 60 percent as being someone who was viewed as unfit for the office of vice president?

The issue is not “can we get the base fired up;” it is “can we get more into the confines of conservative principles.”

If the traditional conservatives have any hope in recapturing their prestigious positions, I strongly suggest they take a good, hard look in the mirror and work on the image they’ve been portraying to the American public. Otherwise the Republicans might be as relevant as the Whig party of the mid-1800s.

Inquiring Minds is the opinion of the writer and not altogether representative of the editorial staff’s views.

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