Tuesday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), columnist David Brooks' regular piece appeared in the New York Times.
Brooks is well known as a neoconservative observer and sometimes promoter of Neocon philosophy--the late William F. Buckley was his mentor and the late Milton Friedman is his hero.
Tuesday's column described what Brooks saw as the battle lines between what he identifies as the two factions of the Republican Party.
"In one camp, there are the Traditionalists, the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed,"- Brooks wrote.
"The other camp, the Reformers, argue that the old GOP priorities were fine for the 1970s but need to be modernized for new conditions,"- he wrote.
"The reformers tend to believe that American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government. The Reformers propose new policies to address inequality and middle-class economic anxiety. They tend to take global warming seriously."-
In Brooks' view, "Only one thing is for sure: In the near term, the Traditionalists are going to win the fight for supremacy in the GOP."-
It is interesting how the views of politics differ for those whose perspective is nearly exclusively from inside the Washington, D. C., beltway (Brooks, for example) when compared to an observer whose perspective is exclusively from other parts of the country (me, for example).
Don't get me wrong, Brooks is a helluva smart guy. He knows politics well and I respect him, even if I don't agree with him.
However, it seems to me he's missing the most important faction in the Republican Party--the religious fanatic crowd--also known as the Religious Right or, more accurately, the Christian Right (CR).
I see four factions that make up the GOP: Brooks' Traditionalists, Reformers and the Neocons and CR. (Admittedly, my two added factions might fall in either of Brooks' factions but, at their respective cores, they are completely loyal to their own factions.)
I'm surprised that Brooks does not recognize the Neocon faction. That's probably because he himself is a Neocon and can see himself fitting into either of the two factions he's identified. But it doesn't work that way.
What Brooks fails to see is that the CR bunch holds all the trump cards in the GOP.
It was the CR that forced Sarah Palin down John McCain's throat as a running mate. The CR vetoed Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Sen. Joe Lieberman (a Democrat-turned-Republicanesque politician) as McCain's running mate.
I believe the winners of the Republican Party inner strife will be the CR, at least for the short term. Here's why:
At the state level, including Colorado, followers of the CR hold nearly every key position in the GOP. Any Republican who wants to run for any office has to toe the CR line or face opposition in his or her primary. Even if our candidate wins office they will have to walk the CR line to stay there.
In other words, any Republican office holder who dismisses the CR will face opposition from his or her own party at the next election.
Knowing this, the body politic will lose all confidence that any GOP office holder can be his or her own person. The Republican "tent"- will not include factions other than the CR.
To succeed, any other faction within the party will have to work from state to state to reshape the the GOP's future.
It would be far easier for any or all the non-CR factions to start their own parties or drift to other parties that might might tolerate them, leaving the GOP as a diminished third party that will eventually fade from existence.
© Copyright 2008 by P. A. Triot. Reproduce and distribute at will, with proper attribution.