By Olivia Covington
And so it begins.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign announcement on Monday was the “official” beginning of the 2016 presidential election, a race that is certain to be filled with more finger-pointing, name-calling and political jousting than any of its predecessors.
But the unique part about the early stages of a presidential election is that it’s not Republican versus Democrat. In the primary races, people of the same party will attempt to destroy their “colleagues” in an attempt to win the party nomination.
This year, it seems like the Democrat primary won’t be as cutthroat as it was in 2008, when President Obama appeared seemingly out of nowhere and stole the nomination from Hillary Clinton in a surprise victory. But this time around, it seems like members of the left wing might let Hillary finally make a run for the White House — this time so she can sit in the Oval Office.
But things aren’t so simple for the GOP. While the New York Times named merely three candidates who might step into the Democrat race, it listed 11 — plus Cruz — who might try to win the Republican nod.
The frontrunner in the hypothetical Republican race is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, better known as the son of Bush 41 and brother of Bush 43. Conservatives have been calling for Bush to follow in the family business for months, and in December he announced that he was “actively” looking into a presidential bid.
Other potential candidates include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, as well as a slew of other big- and small-name conservative politicians.
While it may be good to have options, Republicans will not benefit from this kind of divide. The reason the party can’t decide on two or three prominent candidates is because it doesn’t know what it wants.
Much like the entire country, the GOP is at a crossroads right now. But its dividing line is a bit blurred. Instead of being torn between liberal and conservative, Republicans are trying to decide which side of the conservative line they’re going to stand on.
On one side of the line are the “true” conservatives. In the past few years, this has come to mean the Tea Party and other like-minded, super conservative voters. These people are conservative in every aspect of the political world, except financially and socially. Big government is bad government, and they tend to fight against liberal social movements.
But on the other side stands those who are more moderate. They remain financially conservative, but tend to be more open to more socially liberal ideas. They might be willing to support same-sex marriage or other issues that “true” conservatives shy away from.
And this is the divide that, if not resolved, will hurt the GOP.
If Republicans have any desire to not only take back the White House, but to run it successfully, they need to collectively pick a side. Internal battles and political pettiness is not the way to the White House.
If you look at the list of potential Republican candidates, the divide is evident. You have the “true” conservatives like Tea Party-favorite Cruz, and then you have more moderate candidates like Christie or Bush (yes, Bush is considered a moderate).
If the party can’t even decide what political philosophy its candidate will have, how does it expect to win the election?
If Republicans want a fighting chance at taking back the White House, the party needs to pull together, pick a side and stop being their own worst enemy.