A Philosopher's Blog

Republican Battle Circle

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 29, 2011
Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...

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The Republican presidential candidates face the standard double challenge of the out party. On the one hand, each of the candidates faces the challenge of overcoming his/her rivals and becoming the actual presidential candidate. On the other hand, the contenders need to (or should) be concerned about the nature of the in-party fighting. After all, each attack launched on a fellow candidate can provide the rival party with one more piece of ammunition to use in the actual election.  It can also cause strains within the party, making it harder to pull together for the election. Of course, if a candidate goes too easy or does not return fire when attacked by a fellow candidate, then they can be perceived as a weak candidate.

This challenge is somewhat like what a team faces while sorting out who will be varsity and who will be junior varsity. If they compete too hard among themselves, then they can end up injured and do poorly when it comes to actual competition with other teams. However, if they do not compete enough, then sorting out the division will be rather difficult.

While such infighting has occurred in the past, this year seems especially harsh. First, this is no doubt partially due to the fact that politics seems even more negative and contentious than in recent years and this has become a way of operating even within the party.

Second, there is also the fact that the pool of candidates is rather large, which might lead the candidates to compete even more fiercely to stand out and to stake out their own territory.

Third, there is faction factor. The Republican party contains the Tea Party and various other very active groups (such as the various social conservatives) and the candidates need to pander to these groups and their ideology in order to succeed. These groups seem to be often defined by what they do not like (taxes, gays, immigration, health care, and so on). Hence appealing to them typically involves taking a strong (or even extreme) position against what the groups in question do not like. However, specific candidates often need to hold positions contrary to one (or more) of these groups in order to do well (for example) in their current office. For example, Perry has taken shots regarding the matter of illegal aliens. Bashing another candidate on this matter is thus very appealing in that it appeals to the group in question, it can weaken the opponent, and it can enable the attacker to stand out. One obvious problem with this approach has been that the in-party bashing and pandering to the various factions has led the various factions to disagree with each other in regards to the candidates. This creates something of a problem for the Republican candidates since there is no candidate who has yet been able to gain the approval of the majority of the factions. This will, no doubt, be settled by the party insiders at the appropriate time. However, it would be interesting to see a candidate or two decide to strike out on their own after being rejected by the Republican party.

A final point of concern is that the more that a candidate tries to win over the more extreme factions, the worse the candidate will probably do in the general election. After all, the Republicans cannot win just be getting the Republican votes. They need the independents and perhaps even some Democrats.

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4 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on September 29, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I think it’s all a matter of party politics. The Republican Party has, in my opinion, already “tapped” Romney for the nomination.

    The debates, the primary elections, the conventions, are all merely window dressing to make it appear as though the people and their vote matter. We don’t. Elections are a sham.

    “Throughout the contest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, politicians and voters alike worried that the outcome might depend on the preferences of unelected superdelegates. This concern threw into relief the prevailing notion that—such unusually competitive cases notwithstanding—people, rather than parties, should and do control presidential nominations. But for the past several decades, “The Party Decides” shows, unelected insiders in both major parties have effectively selected candidates long before citizens reached the ballot box.”


  2. T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Only the Democrats could twist wanting to live within one’s means into an “extreme” position:

    Democrats have effectively turned “tea party” into a pejorative, making the words conjure a rigid, uncompromising movement that is at the root of Washington’s dysfunction.

    You won’t hear a Democratic mouth open today without a slur against the tea party spilling out.

    What are these Republican revolutionaries doing that Dems find so divisive and dangerous?

    Best I can tell, their major offense is holding Washington accountable. Listen to them, as I did on Mackinac Island last week during the Republican Leadership Conference, and the only demand you hear is that politicians stop mortgaging America’s future to reckless spending and swelling deficits.

    All they want is for politicians to finally do what both Democrats and Republicans always said they’d do — make the government live within its means — but never got around to doing until the tea party forced their hand.

    In other words, the tea party is the adult in a roomful of overindulged children who resent the call to accountability. How much greater would the debt be today, how much larger the deficit, if the tea party hadn’t shouted, “Enough!”

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110929/OPINION03/109290333/Tea-party-gets-bad-rap-for-telling-truth#ixzz1ZLtlNWCo

    • dhammett said, on September 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      TJ “Democrats have effectively turned “tea party” into a pejorative, making the words conjure a rigid, uncompromising movement that is at the root of Washington’s dysfunction.”

      To call them “rigid and uncompromising” would not be effective if they would compromise occasionally.

      The self-chosen name “Tea Party” was unfortunate. First, the goals of the original Boston Tea Party and this tea party’s ostensible goals are not all that similar.

      Second, the founders/sponsors of this movement would have done well to be more creative and come up with something historic and patriotic, and. . . . ., well, original. I’m certain there was a good conservative advertising major who recently graduated and was looking for employment who could have done that for them. Instead, in their haste to came up with a name that they thought would render the group immediately notable and uncontestably patriotic, they chose “Tea Party”. Seems they were unaware of the denotations and connotations of a similar phrase in modern English: —teabaggers” Perhaps they should have beta tested the name. Now they’re stuck with it.

      The following could use a bit more research, but apparently the origin of the current political use/misuse of the term “teabagger” is also in question.
      It’s possible that an ill-informed teabagger (I mean partier) got the ball (so to speak) rolling.

      Apparently, they also forgot that we’ve sold tea in tiny bags for over a hundred years, so the easy connection in the public mind between tea and bags is easily understood. Thus, the following, and more to come:


  3. magus71 said, on September 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Safe to say this teacher won’t be voting for the evil Republicans:


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