Alan Ehrenhalt, writing in the New York Times yesterday (free registration required), poses an interesting theory regarding America’s Republican Party.
We Canadian conservatives, of course, often point to the Republicans as a successful conservative entity that, unlike our Conservatives up here, can put together majority coalitions and win elections.
But Ehrenhalt, says the Republicans are actually weaker than they appear. In fact, he calls the Republicans a “hyper-extended family” whose members – right-wing Christians, libertarians, suburban businessmen – have very little in common.
Ronald Reagan was able to unify these diverse groups because they all agreed on the need to fight communism.
But when communism collapsed so did Republican unity.
When the Democrats are able to capitalize on these Republican rifts, they win, as Bill Clinton did when he won back-to-back elections starting in 1992.
The emergence of the terrorist threat, says Ehrenhalt, reunited the Republicans and helped them win in 2004, but that glue he argues is also beginning to weaken, hence the recent Democratic victories last week.
So you see, even the mighty Republicans have problems too. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the political fence.