While most civil wars are fought over land, this brewing one appears to be fought over a body of water.
The much-ballyhooed “red wave” that many expected in the 2022 midterm elections never quite materialized, instead, perhaps it would best be described as more of a “pink-ish puddle.”
Despite the GOP taking back control of the House, many Republicans were less than enamored with the relatively muted response across the board during midterms. For every example of a “red wave,” like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flipping the typically Democratic-voting Dade County, there was an example like Dr. Mehmet Oz losing to a very beatable John Fetterman in Pennsylvania.
Just like in virtually any other competitive avenue, be it Wall Street or pro sports, when your team does not live up to expectations, it’s natural for finger-pointing to begin.
Unfortunately for Republicans, this could lead the GOP down a very dark path, at least electorally, given how vitriolic some of this bickering has become.
Even in an environment which the Republicans won in, like the House, there is a call for change.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, for instance, was decidedly not on board with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the House speaker.
“Our ancestors, out of love of country, pledged their lives and their fortunes and their sacred honor. Is the best Congress can really do today pledging a vote for Mitch McConnell? Or Kevin McCarthy?” Gaetz asked, referring to leadership in both houses of Congress.
Gaetz’s distaste for McCarthy is hardly unique. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert also opposes McCarthy.
Will GOP infighting cost Republicans the 2024 election?
Yes: 42% (42 Votes)
No: 58% (59 Votes)
Interestingly, normal Gaetz ally, Marjorie Taylor Greene, does support McCarthy. The two even wrote opposing op-eds regarding McCarthy’s worthiness to continue as House speaker, despite typically flanking each other on any number of conservative causes in recent times.
“Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology,” Gaetz wrote, per Fox News.
“Lying to the base is a red line for me, and that’s what five of my closest colleagues are doing when they claim a consensus House speaker candidate will emerge as they oppose Kevin McCarthy,” Greene wrote. “Here’s the reality: No one is running against Kevin McCarthy for speaker.”
The bickering doesn’t stop there.
Gaetz also doesn’t want Ronna McDaniel to return to her post as RNC chairwoman, feeling her failed leadership and distribution of funds squandered some winnable GOP races during the midterms.
Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit, even jumped into the McDaniel fray, with TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk responding to McDaniel after she lambasted TPUSA for supporting Harmeet Dhillon for RNC chair.
Ronna, thanks for asking.
Turning Point logged more than 500k volunteer hours this election cycle.
TPAction directly contacted and engaged over 5 million voters.
We hosted well over 100 major door knocking events and rallies in target states and districts. (1/5) https://t.co/8ACHWgbQuw
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) December 22, 2022
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has made no friends among the GOP with his apparent role in helping the Democrats push through a $1.7 trillion spending bill (which includes nearly a whopping $45 billion for Ukraine) in the Senate. Mollie Hemingway, editor-in-chief of the conservative news site “The Federalist,” penned an article titled “GOP Can’t Be Successful Until Mitch McConnell Is Gone.”
“I’m looking at Mitch McConnell when I say this:
“DO YOUR JOB, @LeaderMcConnell! Do your job and follow the wishes of the American people who gave a majority to Republicans in the House of Representatives”
“And let’s STOP this bill”
More on Dems’ last-minute spending spree: pic.twitter.com/Zv0Igmk7G3
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) December 14, 2022
Another flashpoint for Republicans has been who should be the flagbearer for the 2024 general election.
While former President Donald Trump has announced his candidacy, there have also been ample voices of support for the aforementioned DeSantis, and that has created its own friction among the GOP.
Either way, this is an issue that GOP leadership, whether the current crop or whoever replaces them, will have to figure out.
The absolute worst-case scenario is for a tribal sub-group within the GOP splintering vote totals for Republican candidates. In other words, Republicans do not want to worry about their own version of “Bernie Bros.”
It’s always been one thing when GOP in-fighting was over Republicans In Name Only. People like Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney have demonstrated a stark disconnect with everyday Americans, and have largely deserved the scorn they’ve received.
But when it comes to honest-to-goodness capital “C” Conservatives fighting over something as abstract as “leadership,” the battle lines become much more blurred but no less intense.
If that breeds a group of GOP “Bernie Bros,” America may very well be looking at President Joe Biden squeaking out another 2024 election win.
It’s pretty obvious that neither Biden, nor the American people, have the mental capacity to deal with another four years.
Hopefully, this Republican civil war leads to a stronger, unified party in the long run. The alternative could be an even more expensive Christmas for the foreseeable future.