Conservative infighting is as apparent now as it was in the primaries, and the reason is the same: because they represent a fragmented populace with contradictory political goals. In the primaries, when conservatives were debating each other, the tactic was to see who could move the furthest right while still appearing presidential. Once Romney was declared the front runner, he could not move any faster to the left (that is in public). Republican soul-searching is experiencing Romney’s political plasticity all at once. Republican strategists like Karl Rove are calling for the GOP to renounce the Tea Party in an attempt to accommodate the shifting demographics. However at the CPAC conference, in what is supposed to be a roll-call For Republicans who are supposed to represent the future of the party, nearly the entire 2012 Republican primary was there and the most popular Republican among Democrats, Chris Christie, continued to be snubbed.
Conservative journalists, like Ramesh Ponnuru and Jennifer Rubin are already impatient for ideological reform in the GOP, and questioning whether not Republicans are interested in winning elections anymore.
Their subtle shift on immigration, on the other hand, could not have been quicker, nor could their effort to signal to Latinos that they have learned from their mistake been more obvious. Another “ideological shift” has been their willingness to allow the sequester to bring defense spending down to pre-9/11 levels. Although they argue that it was the only way to get meaningful deficit reduction, I maintain that it was a way to hamstring the economy in a period expected to produce less anemic growth. There is certainly no reason it can’t be both.
We have also seen Rick Scott of Florida and Jan Brewer of Arizona embrace portions of the Affordable Care Act. Similarly, we have also seen “dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — sign a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry” wrote Sheryl Stolberg of the NYT.
Richard Stevenson argues that ”the only issue that truly unites Republicans is a commitment to shrinking the federal government through spending cuts, low taxes and less regulation.” That certainly appears to be the case and I would also argue was designed to complement the various concessions that conservatives made in that period.
This FOX news story does not chide Jan Brewer for her resistance to Obamacare, nor does it blame her for eventually succumbing to it, but counts her eventual cooperation as a point in her favor.
“Brewer’s recent decision to accept a huge pot of money available to states under ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion was a notable act of cooperation between the Republican governor and the Democratic administration she’s berated, scolded and sued.”
Notice how it commends her both for her intransigence and her cooperation. This is the GOP coming to grips with the fact that they are seen as culpable for political gridlock among the groups that they lost in the election. Unlike Rove, rank-and-file Republicans don’t want to be seen as backing off everything they claim to represent in the last election–at least not all at once. Doing so would imply a lack of an ideological center, and cast them all as political opportunists. And although it is hard to argue that that is not, in essence who the GOP is (*Romney* *cough* *cough*), it certainly behooves them to not embody those stereotypes for awhile.
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