If Governor Chris Christie thinks he has a shot at the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he has to win his current campaign as a “moderate” and then sharply turn to the right.
While he has a good following amongst the moderate side of his party, the reality of current Republican politics precludes a moderate from winning his party’s nomination unless he sells out his principles and his base of support.
In fact, the Republican party, thanks to a bloc of tea party aligned members of the House, has consigned itself to a future of nationwide futility.
Imagine, if you will, the series of debates for the Republican nomination. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Chris Christie trying to reach a fragmented Republican electorate that seems bent on self-destruction in voting their hearts in the primaries and woefully short of national support in November. (Senator Rubio is excluded because of a lapse of sensibility on immigration.)
Where is Jeb Bush? Who would want to stand on the national stage with a band of what John McCain called “loony birds”?
He and Maine’s Susan Collins would be good national candidates. But I think they would never pass the Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina gauntlet to become the frontrunner that is necessary to build the fund raising and grass roots support needed to win the nomination. The 2016 convention will be a right wing celebration akin to the Democratic Convention of 1972 which doomed the chances of any win, despite the overwhelming distaste for the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon.
Here is a bold and risky conclusion: the Republican Party, as now constructed, knows it cannot win the White House. It probably cannot get a majority in the Senate. But it can continue its hold on the House of Representatives and thus continue its strategy of blocking legislation rather than acting on the needs of the nation.
Looking at current polling numbers, the GOP is at a historic low in public opinion. The government shutdown, and its astronomical costs to the public and the economy, was colossal political failure. It will take decades for the Republican party to recover from this Cruz-fueled disaster.
The Republican’s only hope is to continue its hold on the House. John Boehner is history. The hard right…tea party supporters…have more influence and power because of a hesitant and cowardly majority of their caucus.
Thanks to control of many state legislatures by the Republicans, the gerrymandering of Congressional districts will continue as they isolate pockets of minority voters and affluent liberals in drawing the district maps.
Even so, the Republicans know in their hearts that recapturing the White House is nearly impossible. The demographics show that women, African American and Latin Americans are increasingly turned off by the negative policies of the Republican Party.
What can they do? Hold the House is their only hope. They will rely on independent PACs, thanks to the Supreme Court, and field independently wealthy candidates to overwhelm Republican moderates and Democratic candidates.
It is a path to gridlock…which is exactly their goal.
Bob Neuman served as a speech writer and administrative assistant to Rep. Morris Udall. He is a former DNC communications director.