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The Definitive Book on the Future of the GOP

By RICK BLALOCK and ERIC HAM

Q? WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS BOOK?
A. America is at a crossroad. Much of what Americans decide in the next two elections will put an imprint on how we live for the next half century. Who we elect as president and members of Congress will determine so much of the future. But right now the GOP is in turmoil and the fight is more intense than ever before in the history of our republic. I wrote this book to explore the current battle because you cannot solve a problem if you don’t first acknowledge it exists. People keep talking about it, but I thought someone needed to put it on paper–with some user-friendly analysis.

Q? YOU FOCUS SOLELY ON THE GOP; DON’T DEMOCRATS WARRANT BEING UNDER THE MICROSCOPE TOO?
A. The Democrats are under a microscope–the GOP microscope and also Americans’, who are waiting to see if they got what they voted for to move “forward” after having four years of hope and change. But, while they are focused on what’s happening from the party in power with service delivery, many Americans are not in tune to the ongoing battle that is the GOP Civil War. It has major implications on these very Americans’ future, and if no one were to put a spotlight on it, it would prove detrimental.

Q? POLLS SHOW HILLARY CLINTON IS THE FRONT-RUNNER FOR 2016. HOW MUCH WILL THE GOP CIVIL WAR HURT THE REPUBLICANS’ CHANCE AGAINST HER OR THE DEMOCRATS IN 2016?
A.  Just ask Jimmy Carter about Ted Kennedy in 1980. Granted the economy went south and Iranian hostage affair made it tough for the sitting incumbent Democrat, but the primary challenge from Senator Kennedy all but assured defeat for Carter against a battle-ready and well-financed Ronald Reagan. And, the GOP was united. This time around, you could say Hillary is the Reagan and whomever emerges from the Republican Primary is likely to be the Carter, who could enter the General Election so worn down, it will be difficult to win; not impossible, but difficult for sure.

Q? 2014 IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER; WILL GOP INFIGHTING STYMIE EFFORTS TO TAKE BACK THE SENATE FROM DEMOCRATS?
A. The party is in such disarray that it could be like a small propeller plane that stalls in the air. What happens next is usually a spinning of the aircraft, and unless the pilot regains control and takes the plane out of the stall, and out of the spin, it will crash. The fighting between the so-called “grown-ups”–or party regulars and the new kids on the block, aka the Tea Party youngsters is so fierce right now that the GOP could find itself unable to mount a serious challenge to regain control of the Senate. Republicans should have taken it in 2012, but candidates with far-right positions and internal fighting cost the GOP, and it could easily happen in 2014.

Q? ISN’T INTERNAL STRUGGLE CYCLICAL IN AMERICAN POLITICAL PARTIES? WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND, COMPARED TO WHEN DEMOCRATS WERE AT EACH OTHERS THROATS IN THE 1970S AND ‘80S?
A. The Democrats have been down this road before. If you look back to the 1960s, the Vietnam War protests, the Civil Rights Movement, and later the sexual revolution in the early 1970s, we are repeating history—just with the opposite party. The Democrats returned to power after finding their way back to the center (when Bill Clinton and other centrist Dems ushered in moderation). Normally this exchange of the guard is cyclical in American politics. What’s different this time around is the intensity of the infighting and the emergence of the Tea Party, and the far right’s hold on the GOP. There is also the fast-changing demographics of the American population. If the GOP leaders cannot find a way to recognize this change and adapt, it will be a regional party at best.

Q? HOW HAS 21ST CENTURY MEDIA IMPACTED POLITICAL PARTIES AND INTERNAL STRIFE IN THE GOP?

A.  One thing is certain, the news cycle is much faster than ever before. But just as fast as a story can live and then die, a new one pops up. There is no lag time anymore. Further, when you consider that mobile media—sending and receiving info on the phone or your portable device—is the norm now, it has tremendous impact on political parties. People now go after each other via twitter at a moment’s notice. This has created a whole new weapon in the GOP Civil War. When you have thousands, maybe even millions of people following a politician, they can shoot off a salvo any hour or minute of the day; they don’t have to wait for reporters to show up at a news conference the next day. So, the impact of 21st century media and technology cannot be overstated—and it’s here to stay.

Q? IS A THIRD PARTY EMERGING IN THIS COUNTRY? AND WHO WINS OR LOSES IF ONE IS ESTABLISHED?

A. For the first time since the days of the Whigs it does seem remotely possible that a major party could take a loss in luster and dominance. With such strong adherence to their beliefs, members of the various Tea Party groups could unite and emerge as a viable third party. When you look at the demographics of those who lean toward the Tea Party, it’s clear the Republicans stand to lose more than the Democrats. Not that the current-day GOP would go the way that the Whig Party did (which collapsed and died over the pro- and anti-slavery battles of the 1850s), but it would diminish in power and influence.

Q? LOOKING TOWARD 2016, HOW DOES THIS BOOK SHAPE THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS GOING FORWARD?
A.  It is my hope that this book provides readers with an in-depth look at the machinations that drove the 2012 election, the GOP and, to some extent, the Democratic Party. Upon close examination, you will see that the country did not get the full debate it needed to confront the enormous problems facing the United States. If the 2014 and 2016 elections are to be any different, much more will be required from the candidates and their parties.

Q? IN LIGHT OF THE RECENT SCANDALS DOGGING THE WHITE HOUSE, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT THE PREMISE OF THE BOOK?
A.  These scandals offer an opportunity for the GOP to reshape the debate and offer an alternative vision for governing. However, the big question—which I explore throughout the book—is: Can the Republican Party get out of its own way to offer a compelling narrative for leading and governing at the national level? They have picked up plenty statehouses, but as a national party they are in decline.

Q? WHAT’S THE ONE TAKEAWAY YOU WANT TO LEAVE WITH READERS?
A.  A two-party system is critical to creating a prosperous and free United States. The GOP is integral to America’s success. For our country to do well, it needs an effective Republican Party to offer a viable check on the Democratic Party as well as a competing vision for the direction of the country.

FAQs: THE GOP CIVIL WAR