The budget battles rocking the capital have exposed a deepening fault line within an already fractured Republican Party: the divide between the GOP’s solid Southern base and the rest of the country.
That regional split became evident when members of the House of Representatives cast votes last week on a budget deal designed to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts: Almost 90% of Southern Republicans voted against the “fiscal-cliff” compromise. At the same time, a majority of Republican representatives from outside the South supported the deal, which was approved in large part because of overwhelming Democratic support.
The GOP’s geographic schisms burst anew after House Speaker John A. Boehner canceled an expected vote on a $60-billion disaster relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Rep. Peter T. King accused his party of “cavalier disregard” toward New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, lashed out at what he called the “toxic internal politics” of his party’s House majority, noting that Republicans had speedily approved support for storm relief in “Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama…”
The image projected by the battles in the House — the only part of the federal government controlled by Republicans — could influence public attitudes toward the GOP and its candidates heading into the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.
In particular, the South’s preeminence could pose challenges to national GOP efforts to broaden the party’s appeal on social and cultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage…
To an unprecedented degree, today’s Republican majority in the House is centered in the states of the old Confederacy. The GOP enjoys a 57-seat advantage across the 11-state region that stretches from Texas to Virginia.
Outside the South, however, it’s a different story.
As a result of reapportionment and the 2012 election, the GOP no longer controls a majority of non-Southern congressional districts. In the last Congress, Republicans held a slim, two-district majority in non-Southern states; now Democrats have a 24-seat edge…
Merle Black, an Emory University political science professor who is an authority on the rise of the Republican Party in the South, said opposition to the fiscal cliff compromise appeared to be concentrated in congressional districts with the highest percentages of conservative voters.
“The Deep South is the most conservative area of the nation,” Black noted…
It hardly needs to be noted that the South leads the nation in preferring theocracy, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny…and ignorance.
“Republicans across the country need to take a long, hard look at where this party is headed. Demographically, it cannot survive on the trajectory it’s taken,” said Dick Wadhams, a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. “The question for House Republicans is whether they are going to be an aid or an obstacle. I am hopeful the longer view is taken and that Republicans will understand the political predicament we would be in if responsible, substantive changes aren’t made in the tone and substance of the party’s relationship to Hispanics.”
I’m becoming truly bored with the number of well-meaning folks who have assumed the responsibility of helping Republicans find themselves a political party. Most of the folks in my extended family who left the GOP in recent years simply register as independents. As do I. They can’t bring themselves to register – as I do – as a Democrat for a few weeks every couple of years to vote in the Democrat primary. If it was an open primary, I wouldn’t change my registration from independent. But, for now, I have to if I want any voice whatsoever in who I get to vote for in local and state politics.
The New Mexico Republican Party is about a incompetent as the national crew – and courtesy of the Tea Party, just as often bigoted and backwards – so, on national issues they are simply irrelevant. On local issues, they’re fine to vote for if you think oil companies and religious fundamentalists should inherit the earth they already think they own.