The Republican Party has now arrived at a moment when it must grasp the big political picture, or else devolve into an organization of squabblers and self-destruction which throws away a historic opportunity to recover the confidence of voters and govern the nation through its current crisis.
The vote in the Republican caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives to fire its previously chosen leader, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has precipitated this crucial moment, months away from the key 2024 national and presidential elections.
The big picture that Republicans must not lose sight of is that they have an opportunity to return a Republican to the White House and seat a conservative majority in Congress beginning in January 2025.
Such a perspective does not necessarily yet require only one possible choice for president, or the immediate implementation of any one policy. In fact, it is the notion of “my way or no way” that is the greatest obstacle to the realization of the big picture for the GOP and the conservatives who make up its electorate.
The simple reality today is that radical progressives control the executive branch, and their political party organization controls the U.S. Senate. Conservatives are currently relegated to blocking some, but not all, of the left’s agenda, and through various U.S. House committees drawing attention to and exposing the overreaches and excesses of their political opponents.
Giving one member of Congress and/or a tiny number of them veto power over each and every policy issue works directly against the goals of the big picture because it inevitably results in bitterness and stalemate — conditions guaranteed not to inspire confidence from a majority of voters.
As a case in point, the issues of public debt, huge deficits, and endless growth of government spending are central and key policy issues for conservatives. In order to win in 2024, the Republican Party must stand against deficits and increased spending and be prepared to make reducing the debt and lowering government spending among their highest priorities.
But they cannot make these changes unless they win the elections which will enable them to do so. Right now, Democrats have the power to prevent these reforms, and further, to make economic conditions worse. They control the executive branch and one body of the legislative branch.
Demands of one GOP elected official, or a small group of them, for immediate legislative satisfaction are political fantasies, counterproductive to electoral success because they do not motivate voters to turn out for a political cause to be realized after an election.
If, however, after a successful election, conservatives fail to deliver on their promises to the voters, then that is the proper time to hold leaders accountable, and to insist on practical conservative policies.
The big picture now is for the Republican Party to complete its recruitment of candidates for governor, state legislatures, U.S. Senate and House contests, and to nominate a candidate for president.
Every political party has legitimate factions with varying differences of basic principles. These differences can and ought to be debated in full view. Through the local and national nominating process, candidates with these differences compete, and nominees are ultimately selected to be on the ballot under their party name.
If the party is true to those principles, party voters should unite at election time. This isn’t always easy after hard-fought primaries and conventions, but if the big picture is to be realized, it is clearly necessary.
In competitive districts, states, and any presidential election, neither major party has enough votes of its own to win most elections in November. The number of independent or non-aligned voters today means that party-nominated candidates must also attract these votes in order to win. A divided, squabbling party and flawed nominee are not likely to attract independents in the voting booth.
The 2024 election is complicated by recent changes in the voting process, most of them initiated by Democrats, and including expanded voting periods for in-person and mail-in ballots, ballot harvesting, and relaxed voter ID requirements.
Republicans have opposed many of these changes, and often ignored them. But they now exist, and thus they are also part of their big picture in 2024. Republicans must take full advantage of these changes and not cede effective tactics to their opponents. Republicans must also, at every level, insist on voting integrity in the casting and counting of ballots.
The time for personal vendettas, bitter disputes, and recriminations among Republicans has no more shelf life left. Debates and party contests are ahead, and then an election that will determine the direction of the nation for at least a generation. That is the true big picture. Anything else leads to distraction and defeat.