Dealing With Party Divisiveness – Idaho GOP Case Study

The real question seems to be where the fractious Party goes from here.


There are characteristics of both groups that have contributed to the escalation of tensions that climaxed at last week’s convention. One is the tendency of those who have been around awhile, who have, over the years, grown adept at compromising to the left to the point that the nation only slightly resembles what it was founded as. The neophytes, or newcomers, share essentially the same foundational principles, yet see compromise as a veritable sin. Consequently, they refuse to budge on anything, even slightly. They also are Machiavellian in how they interpret rules to their benefit, while ignoring those that don’t.

The solution is precisely where it typically is with most matters when there are two points at apparent irreconcilable odds: somewhere in the middle. Those who have been around awhile need to realize that some compromise to the right, rather than the left, is a move in the right direction, and be willing to give some ground to hold the GOP to the principled standard that historically has been the Party’s hallmark. And the newcomers need to learn that, in order to prevent complete electoral success of the left– those who are actively transforming the republic–they need to amicably cooperate with those who have attempted to carry the conservative banner for generations, before they came along. It should never be an either/or proposition for the party faithful. It should always be an inclusive “You and I together can make it happen” approach.

Regrettably, what we saw transpire at the convention last week was indicative of what happens when the unyielding, rigid, intransigent component of the Party is in control. Chairman Barry Peterson stacked the committees with his unyielding ones, who interpreted rules as they most suited their objectives. And when they were confronted with challenges to their autocratic rulings, rather than yielding to reason, they became even more obdurate. It’s now clear which “Republicans” should not be leading the Party.

Even with the convention ending with such tumult, there is little effect on the grassroots or local Party efforts. New platform planks, especially of the ilk passed two years ago, and uncertainly over who the state chairman is, makes little difference at the local level, where elections are won or lost. The fact remains: if you prefer less government intrusion into your lives, less government debt and spending, more focus on the constitutional ideals that made America great, and more individual liberty and free-market principles, the Republican brand is the closest you’ll get in our two-party system.

The direction of the Party apparatus is entirely up to the members. Last week could be the low point from which we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, and start acting like adults to work together. This requires the realization by each member that we cannot control others, only ourselves. And if we comport our personal actions and words to be constructive and unifying, we can choose to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

If we fail to do this, and continue the territorial and ideological purity tantrums, we will assure that the victories in November go to the tax-and-spend Party of Obamacare, “skyrocketing” energy costs, the redefinition of society’s foundational institutions, and leadership vacuum. The latter is not a logical alternative.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

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