In the aftermath of Eric Cantor’s recent stunning loss in the GOP Virginia primary to Tea Party candidate Dave Brat, the Republican Party is at a point where its survival depends upon turning its attention more towards the will of its constituency. After all, those are the people who cast the votes that put candidates into office or effectively fire those in whom they have lost confidence.
The question that should be on the minds of Republicans is when will GOP politicians understand that they are losing the support of their base. They are either not listening, or they are summarily dismissing the direction voters want the country to go while hoping nobody is paying attention. By now, Eric Cantor realizes voters actually have been paying attention while he obviously was not.
According to The Washington Post’s reporting of a Gallup Poll, the main fault of the Republican Party is that it won’t compromise. This presents an interesting, albeit incomplete concept because without identifying specific issues, it could be argued that there are some things that should never be compromised. The Democrat and Republican Parties both represent a citizenry with diverse core values that respectively, have morphed into a distinct alignment with liberal and conservative ideologies. While some issues that face the nation are absolutely negotiable and amenable to compromise, there are others that clearly are not and are non-negotiable. For example, how would it even be possible to compromise on the issues of slavery, abortion, same-sex marriage or capital punishment?
Liberal and conservative ideologies are defined by sets of core values that are now seen as splitting the country into a widening cultural divide. This could be considered as primarily due to the non-negotiable values that neither camp is willing to compromise. It is problematic for the Republican Party that it must now contend with the Tea Party as a viable threat and acknowledge its growing influence, a point which Eric Cantor is all too familiar.
The importance of ideology in America should not be underestimated. Ideology, whether it is liberal or conservative, defines the country and is the driving force behind domestic and foreign policy. It also profoundly impacts upon the law of the land through the U.S. Supreme Court’s Constitutional interpretation. The cultural impact of liberalism and conservatism is enormous and only those with any foresight will understand that America is in the midst of a critical identity crisis, akin to political and cultural schizophrenia. Arguably, the power to profoundly influence the complexion of the country rests with the person whose phone and pen are currently being used.
In the meantime, the Republican National Committee, in their State of the Party report, cites a problem with garnering the support of younger voters. This is not a minor problem. One possible explanation for this is mentioned in The Washington Post which cited a study that disclosed 72 percent of faculty members at American colleges and universities are liberal while 15 percent are conservative. Similarly, the study revealed that 50 percent of faculty members identify themselves as Democrats compared with 11 percent as Republicans. The inference should be clear.
The study appears in the March issue of the Forum, an online political science journal. Professor Stanley Rothman, one of the study’s authors, sees the results as preliminary evidence of “possible discrimination” against conservatives in hiring and promotion. This assertion is directly supported by the results of a survey conducted by psychologists Yoel Linbar and Joris Lammers of Tilburg University where liberal academics admitted, among other things, they would in fact discriminate against colleagues with conservative views. The study is published in the journal, Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Whether the argument that young people are being influenced by their liberal college professors is true or not, the fact remains that voters in the 18 to 29 age range are increasingly voting Democrat in elections, as cited by The Huffington Post. This demographic voted 60 percent for President Obama compared to 36 percent for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election.
At some point, the Republican Party will have to turn things around if it is to remain a viable entity in the American political system. They need to reacquire the pulse of their base and re-commit to the principles of representative government. As Eric Cantor can now painfully attest, failure to connect with one’s constituents and represent their core values has given momentum, not surprisingly, to the Tea Party, and has resulted in some harsh eye-opening consequences for the GOP. Could the telling upset victory by the Tea Party over the GOP in the Virginia primary be a turning point for the Republican Party?
Opinion by Mark Politi