BY LUKE WATHEN
For the past eight years, the Republican Party has been united in their disdain for President Obama. From the early days of the administration, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act despite near-unanimous Republican opposition to their refusal to hear the case for a new Supreme Court appointment after the death of Antonin Scalia, the GOP stood firm on their opposition to Obama and the Democratic Party in general.
While the party kept a sense of cohesion from the time Obama entered office to the time that he left, the current Trump administration is demonstrating that the GOP is anything but united.
This was made most apparent by the announcement of the American Health Care Act, the congressional Republicans’ answer to the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This announcement created a puzzling reaction within Congress and a sense of bipartisanship that has not been seen in years. The vast majority of senators and congressmen, both Republican and Democrat, are opposed to the new plan.
Reasons vary among individuals, with some saying the act does too little to protect poor Americans and others saying that the act is as intrusive as the dreaded Obamacare. Noted Obama critic Sen. Rand Paul described his own party’s plan as “riddled from top to bottom with problems.”
Paul later went on to describe the plan as “Obamacare Lite” on his Twitter account from March 15 of this year.
Nonetheless, the cold reaction to the new plan shows that the Republican majority in Congress is not as cohesive in their desires as they would like to portray.
This idea of division first came into the forefront during the 2016 Republican primaries. While Democrats had only about five major candidates to choose from, the GOP had over 15 candidates that all seemed at least somewhat feasible choices for a nomination.
The biggest problem with this large pool of candidates came with their major ideological differences. Candidates vying for the Republican nomination ranged from establishment politicians such as Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, moderate conservatives like John Kasich and George Pataki, a free-market libertarian in Rand Paul and a Reagan-style conservative Christian in Ted Cruz. Ultimately, it was this division that allowed Donald Trump, a man whose beliefs are a complete hodgepodge of liberal and conservative ideals, to win both the nomination and the presidency.
Even with a Republican in both the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress, the GOP is showing that their previous cohesion was a product of mutual distaste for the Obama administration. With their party in control of two of the three branches of federal government, however, Republicans no longer have a major uniting factor and have been reduced to infighting and measures that are unpopular even within their own party.
With the midterm congressional elections only a year away, the Republican Party should repair the divisions within their ranks before they lose their majority in both congressional houses. United they may stand, but divided they will no doubt fall to a Democratic majority.