In the aftermath of Friday’s decision to pull Republican House Leader #Paul Ryan’s proposed bill for the replacement of the Affordable Care Act the GOP must now confront the forces that led to the political disaster. While President #Donald Trump, at least publicly, lays the blame on the Democrats the GOP’s leadership must begin addressing the divisions within the Party that have been exposed since the businessman decided to enter politics.
As Ryan said yesterday, it was truly a “disappointing day”.
While the Republican Party had already been divided by the Tea Party in 2009 these splits have become much more marked and public since Donald Trump’s decision to enter the presidential race which he then won unexpectedly.
As is natural the businessman with political ambitions became the target for the other candidates during the Primaries. His unorthodox behaviour meant that these candidates were unable to counteract his off the cuff comments and lack of a prepared agenda. These qualities would also play a part in his defeat of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in the presidential race proper.
During the presidential campaign not all Republicans fell into line behind their ostensible candidate and many, including House Majority Leader Paul Ryan publicly expressed their discomfort in the candidate.
This dissention became even more pronounced when the first rumours of Russian hacking began circulating during the campaign.
It must be remembered that the famous report by the former British MI5 agent that formed the basis for the initial investigations was given to the FBI by Republican Senator John McCain who had repeatedly stated his disapproval of his Party’s candidate.
These divisions did not disappear with Donald Trump’s victory and indeed the reports of intelligence community investigations of alleged Russian hacking of the campaign in favour of Donald Trump increased the distrust of these dissident Republicans.
As the Oval Office began issuing executive orders, some of which some followed the party line such as the order that will allow the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline blocked by the Obama Administration, one order was destined to split the Party..
Paradoxically it was the very order that should have brought together the Party as it involved the Obama Administration’s signature Act and thus the one most hated by Republicans, the repeal of the #affordable care act.
As we saw on Friday with the withdrawal of Paul Ryan’s proposed bill, the replacement plan exposed the deep divisions between the various factions within the Party. The fact that there were groups that thought that the bill went too far and others that thought it did not go far enough was proof that the differences within the Party are not skin deep but on important philosophical differences.
Making matters worse was the realization that this issue would have led to the loss of seats by many Republicans at next year’s midterms.
Friday’s withdrawal did not end the divisions; it only marked the end of a chapter of an unfinished book.
There are other issues that will test the relationships within the Party beginning with the border wall with Mexico, the proposed Moslem ban now blocked by the courts and finally the Oval Office’s proposed budget that contain many proposals that will exacerbate the divisions.
Furthermore, the debate on the repeal of the ACA exposed the lack of leadership in the GOP. Paul Ryan was unable to rally his troops and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell faced an even harder task as the Senate majority was a single vote.
Yet the greatest failure was in the White House where President Donald Trump’s constantly mistakes giving orders with leading a political party and all its differing factions.
The Republican Party must now define what it truly represents and to do so it must also remember the words of its greatest Leader, Abraham Lincoln; “A house divided is sure to fall”.
Was he also predicting the eventual fate of his own Party?