As the far-right continues to grow in power and influence, the GOP itself is crumbling. A party that once catered to professionals, businessmen, and hardworking families striving for a more prosperous America has been co-opted by the ignorant, misinformed, and bigots of the country. If the Republican Party hopes to regain its standing in America, it must cut out the extremists infesting its ranks.
During recent years, the radical right has driven out moderate Republicans in favor of partisan zealots like Michelle Bachmann and Ted Cruz. The most vocal bloc of voters of late is not the average Republican but the far-right minority. Even once moderate politicians with exemplary records such as John McCain and Mitt Romney were forced to adopt more extreme views to appease the most conservative of voters. Only the most radical conservatives are emerging from the primaries. These candidates not only ostracize swaths of voters in general elections, but their vitriolic rhetoric casts the entire party in a poor light.
As a result of the exodus of moderate Republicans, the party’s agenda has taken a noticeable turn to the extreme. A party that once championed the ideals of economic freedom, limited government, and robust foreign policy has been warped into something much different. Many Americans now believe Republicans have an unhealthy obsession with repealing Obamacare, social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and an isolationist worldview. Paired with their stubborn refusal to compromise and their irresponsible actions when elected, it is no surprise that the American public places blame for the fiasco in Washington upon the shoulders of the tea party-led House Republicans. This decay of public image not only threatens future elections, but the credibility of the entire Republican Party.
Unfortunately for the GOP, the influence of the tea party jeopardizes the party’s long-term survival. An entire generation of young voters and the exploding population of first and second-generation immigrants are quickly flocking to the Democratic Party, frightened by the conservative extremism espoused by Republican fanatics. The Republican Party can no longer solely turn to white males. It must expand its voting base if it hopes to remain relevant in an increasingly diverse country. In light of this, it is regrettable that the Republicans choose to back strict and unforgiving immigration legislation, snubbing the rising number of Hispanic voters in the country. As a demographic that is regularly lauded as religious, hardworking, and instilled with strong family values, one would assume them to be a prime target for voter outreach efforts. Sadly, xenophobia and racism hurled from the far right under the guise of protecting the economy has stifled any such progress.
While the future of a tea party-run Republican Party seems bleak, there is not cause for complete despair. Hope abounds in conservative voters and politicians alike that the Republican Party can return from the brink. Prominent figures such as governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have realized the error in the party’s current path and have charged that the GOP must stop being the stupid party. Republicans across the nation are beginning to realize that the tea party only distracts and detracts from real conservative ideals. Expanding economic freedom does not mean disbanding the Federal Reserve. Limiting government does not mean eliminating it. Promoting family values does not mean espousing bigotry. Maintaining American preeminence abroad does not mean ignoring the rest of the world.
The Republican Party must cast off the dead weight that is the radical right or face its eventual ruin.
Shinseki is a member of
the class of 2015.