There are very clear divisions within the Republican Party over what type of candidate could best beat Barack Obama. The Gingrich-Romney showdown has become almost entirely personal, with both candidates attacking each other’s character and personal history. Romney recently called Gingrich erratic, dangerous, and unreliable, while Gingrich has continued to call Romney a liar.
The exchanges have deeply angered the Tea Party base, which supports both Gingrich and Rick Santorum over Romney in Florida. Sarah Palin, a Gingrich supporter, called the tactics by Romney “Stalin-esque” and “unprecedented” in a GOP primary. With Romney winning in many polls but isolating the conservative base and the Tea Party, he might not have the backing to succeed.
But while the lack of GOP unity might be hurting the future presidential nominee’s chances of beating Obama, what does it mean for congressional gridlock?
We’ve seen that party polarization has been increasing over the years—democrats and republicans in Congress have little to no overlap anymore in terms of political ideology. This polarization has made compromise more difficult than ever and has created greater policy gridlock. What’s necessary for change is a wider range of ideologies along the political spectrum, not just two clusters on each end.
Embracing the variation of ideologies within the Republican Party could help to bring more pragmatism and compromise to Washington. While the lack of unity is bad news for the GOP’s immediate chances of winning the presidential election, it could be great news for tackling the huge policy challenges that lie ahead for Congress. Having more moderate republicans in Congress would encourage compromise from both sides of the aisle.
While I don’t see republicans embracing this strategy any time soon, it just might be inevitable if the divisions within the party become large enough. Our political system needs a bit of a shock, and the GOP is perfectly poised to deliver.