The Republican Party has become Balkanized

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Before the Republican Party even begins to think about curing what ails it, members have to recognize the fact that the party is Balkanized.

We are never going to win elections if we remain broken up into separate factions, sometimes barely speaking to one another. Bizarre as it seems, each group within this Balkanization of the GOP is united in the belief that Ronald Reagan is its standard bearer.

This, they tell us, is the man they want to follow. Ronald Reagan was not someone who found ways to disagree with you, but spent most of his life trying to find ways to agree with you.

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He always sought to find a common ground — to move the party and the country forward. A lot of Republicans quote his statement that we must not let the bad be the enemy of the good. But today’s Republican Party is wedded to allowing the bad to be the enemy of the good.

As a result, we don’t win elections. I may agree with you on taxation, for example. Or I may agree with you on immigration. If I disagree with you on abortion, however, I may just stay home on Election Day, or not vote for you; I might even vote for your opponent.

As a result, we end up electing the candidate who disagrees with us on taxation, a person who disagrees with us on immigration, and also disagrees with us on abortion and everything else. We excuse this exercise in irrationality by claiming we want to make a statement.

It’s the same thing with immigration. I agree with you on abortion, I agree with you on taxation, I agree with you on the war in Iraq, but I disagree with you on immigration. So I’m going to stay home on Election Day and help our opponents — who disagree with us on everything else — win.

That sound you hear in the background is my dad rolling over in his grave.

This is Balkanization at its worst. The Republican Party is broken up into a lot of large pockets nursing our own prejudices and our own grudges, and unwilling to accept the other guy’s opinion if he doesn’t agree with us on every issue 100 percent of the time. So we break up into factions, allowing a single issue to divide us when we agree on everything else.

In your own family, among your spouse and your children, there is never perfect agreement on everything all the time, yet you all get along and present a united front when facing outsiders.

In the Republican Party, however, it seems we find reasons not to get along, and not to present a united front in the face of our opponents. Instead, we need to find reasons to get along and move this party forward regardless of our differences.

That’s what Ronald Reagan did — as Ronald Reagan, citizen; as Ronald Reagan, governor of California; and as Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. He had his views on certain issues, but he didn’t take your opposite view and string you up with it and say he’d never support you because he disagreed with you on a single issue.

My dad always looked at the glass as being half full, and never as half empty as so many of us do nowadays. And until we get back to a positive message about moving this country forward, and find a way to unite ourselves, we’ll never be able to unite the nation behind our party.

We are further Balkanized by becoming a party of personalities. We are attaching ourselves to certain individuals, and as a result we have become a party of people and not a party of principles. We are Romneyites, or Huckabee or Giuliani devotees, or McCainites, or supporters of Gov. Sarah Palin — when we need to be just plain Republicans.

In the Balkans, warfare between factions was the status quo. As Republicans, if we continue to Balkanize and fail to unite, then fighting one another will be our party’s status quo.

Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. Look for Mike’s newest book, “Twice Adopted” and other info at E-mail comments to