Republican Battle Circle
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.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.