And why not? If the Republican Party were to fracture into two separate entities, all of a sudden electing Democrats in red states becomes a lot more feasible. And since the vast majority of anti-gun politicians are operating under the auspices of the Democratic Party these days, a split on the Right would be tactically advantageous to fans of Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda.
The most recent evidence for the attitudes of gun control supporters comes from Pennsylvania’s Morning Call newspaper, where columnist Paul Muschick is fully on board with the idea of a new “center-right” party purged of Trump supporters.
Longtime Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent was among 120 Republican officials who participated in recent talks about forming a new political party or an independent faction within the GOP.
They’re unhappy with the direction the GOP has gone — down the toilet — under former President Donald Trump. Conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia doesn’t reflect well on the party, either.
“Clearly, there are a number of Republicans like myself and other Republican leaders, who want a clean break from President Trump, and we are kind of rallying around some core founding principles like truth and honesty, and democracy, and rule of law,” Dent, of Allentown, told CNN last week.
That would be wonderful.
America needs more moderates. If it takes forming another party or party faction to give them a voice, sign me up.
Muschick goes on to say that he left the GOP last month and is now looking for a new home; one that’s less conservative and far more interested in putting new gun control laws on the books than in securing our Second Amendment rights.
There is middle ground to build on. At the federal level, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Center Valley and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County are among those who have called for universal background checks.
In the state Legislature, Republican Rep. Todd Stephens of Montgomery County and former Sen. Tom Killion of Delaware County, a Republican, wrote legislation to enact a red-flag law. Also known as extreme risk protection orders, they allow household members and law enforcement to ask a court to temporarily take guns from people who have shown they are a danger to themselves or others.
Like climate change, reducing gun violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Changes can be made while still honoring the Second Amendment.
Universal background checks and red flag laws aren’t “middle ground” agenda items. They certainly don’t “honor” the Second Amendment. Instead, these are some of the top priorities of gun control activists, and they are aimed squarely at legal gun owners rather than violent criminals.
I’m sure that gun control activists would love to see a third party comprised of former Republicans who are willing to embrace at least a few of the gun control movement’s biggest issues. Not only would it allow Democrats to pick up some additional votes for their anti-gun legislation, but more importantly it would cripple the chances of the Right to take back control of the House and Senate in 2022 by dividing the Right into separate and warring camps.
Like Muschick, I too have grown frustrated with the GOP over the past month or so, but unlike the former Republican, I’m annoyed with both factions, who seem to have forgotten the basic lesson of Politics 101: you win through addition, not subtraction.
The greatest gift the Right could give the gun control movement would be to split into two separate factions or political parties, which would benefit Democrats far more than it would either pro-Trump or anti-Trump Republicans.
Take my own congressional district, for example. Rep. Denver Riggleman was ousted by Republican voters in a convention last year and replaced by the far more Trump-friendly Bob Good. In November, Good defeated Democrat Cameron Webb for the Fifth Congressional District seat in Virginia by nearly six points, 52.6% to 47.4%. There were about 400,000 votes cast, and Good ended up with about 20,000 more votes than Webb.
Let’s say that in 2022 Good runs as the Trump-backed candidate while an anti-Trump conservative launches a third party bid. Even if Good were to keep 80% of the Republican voters in the district, that would likely not be enough to prevent a Democrat from picking up a solidly red seat in Congress.
Now imagine that scenario replicated in dozens of Republican-held districts and red-state Senate races. Democrats wouldn’t have to improve on their 2020 standings; they could win just by sitting back and watching the two wings of the Right attack each other and cannibalize Republican votes. Muschick and other moderates might be happy with that outcome at first, but if anyone would be thrilled by Democratic dominance in Congress they should probably be voting for the Democrats in the first place, rather than encouraging a formal split in the GOP.
Since the 1960s, the Republican Party has been an uneasy and (and often unequal) coalition of religious conservatives, free-market conservatives, and libertarian-leaning conservatives. It’s a messy alignment that comes with inherent tensions, but it’s also worked fairly well over the decades. A political purity contest between the Trump-aligned Republicans and the anti-Trump Republicans for the sole control of the GOP would make it harder for either wing to get elected in many swing districts, and the Second Amendment would suffer as a result.
It would be one thing if we were seeing more pro-gun Democrats rise through the ranks, but unfortunately that’s not the case at the moment. The best chance to defeat the Democrats’ anti-gun agenda is to grow the Republican Party, not split it into two separate organizations. I’m becoming increasing worried that the Right is in for a bruising fight with itself between now and the midterm elections, with gun-control loving Democrats benefitting the most from the Republicans who are busy punching themselves in the face.
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