Earlier this week, David Horsey took a look at the CPAC conference and noted the rather dramatic split in the Republican Party. The basest base wants to maintain the purity of a party for the rich and white, while the rest of the party would like to start winning elections.
A new report commissioned by the Republican National Committee reads like an anti-GOP critique from the “lame stream media.” It describes the party as too rigidly ideological, too in thrall to greedy corporations, too disconnected from nonwhite and young voters, and in desperate need of new ideas. ...
Since the Sarah Palin/Rush Limbaugh wing of the party was clearly not represented on the committee, it may not be surprising that conservative purists sustained the biggest hit in the report. Still, the fact that the five took suggestions from 50,000 rank-and-file party members gives the report some weight. And the authors would have been fools if they had ignored information gathered from focus groups that indicates a great many Americans perceive Republicans as a bunch of narrow-minded, out-of-touch, homophobic, stuffy old white men who are interested only in the welfare of rich people. ...
CPAC actually provided a vivid example of the fevered, insular mindset that the RNC committee sees as a huge problem for the party. “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself," the committee’s report says. "We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
Yet, while the RNC is saying it is time to open the doors to new people and new ideas, the lineup of CPAC speakers was composed almost entirely of insular ideologues, gay-bashers, gun fetishists, religious fundamentalists, birth control foes and devotees of wacky conspiracy theories. CPAC stars such as Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Allen West, Donald Trump and the National Rifle Assn.'s Wayne LaPierre do not represent a new direction for the GOP; they represent exactly what the Republican National Committee is warning against. [Emphasis added]
One wag at Eschaton suggested that CPAC stood for "Crazy People Acting Crazy," and I think that summarizes it nicely. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans want better background checks for gun purchases, have no problems with gay marriage, and are in favor of immigration reform even if it provides a pathway to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants already here. That the Republican Party wants to tap into those majorities for votes makes perfect sense. But Palin and Rush are not about to give up, at least not yet.
If the RNC report is ignored and the Tea Party activists continue to hold a knife against the throat of the rest of the party, the GOP may find itself shut out all over the country the way it was shut out in California in 2012.
And wouldn't that be a shame.