The Battle for the GOP

Two prominent faces of the Republican party, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, battle to shape the party and our country.

J. Scott Applewhite, Julio Cortez

Two prominent faces of the Republican party, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, battle to shape the party and our country.

Slow action. Stubborn politicians. Pervasive gridlock. The hallmarks of what governing has become thanks to the Republican controlled House and its radical, far right Tea Party caucus. Last week, a last minute deal prevailed ending the government shut down and raising the debt ceiling, but don’t be so keen to celebrate.

The compromise guarantees to fund the federal government only through January 15, 2014, and raises the debt ceiling, allowing the Treasury Department to continue borrowing, only through February 7, 2014. Consider it a temporary ceasefire in a political conflict for the future of the Grand Old Party. A ceasefire that will surely morph into all out war. Let’s meet the challengers.

In the far-far right corner, weighing in with a haphazard stent in the Bush-Cheney Administration and coming off a successful and unprecedented effort to shut that whole thing down (the government I mean), meet the freshman senator from Texas and Tea Party favorite: Ted Cruz.

In what now appears to be the center right, weighing in with an economically prosperous state and record of reaching across the isle, meet the Republican governor of New Jersey and presidential hopeful: Chris Christie.

The challengers are preparing to face off and fight for the future of their party. Unfortunately for America, Cruz’s fight did more harm than good. “In an effort to help him run for president, he has done some stuff that’s really damaging to our country,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an interview with Univision. “He’s been attempting to raise money. And who has he hurt? He has hurt average Americans.”

The Cruz 2016 platform? Repeal Obamacare, more freedom, build a fence, more freedom, preserve the sanctity of marriage, more freedom and maybe even throw in some tax cuts (only for the rich of course.) A real hardliner with no political incentive to work with democrats. He had an ideological and political hissy fit over President Obama’s signature piece of legislation: the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Fine, you don’t have to like the law. He could have proposed better ideas, worked with the president and the Department of Health and Human Services to improve it or even just could have voiced his opposition. All reasonable.

Nope. He shut down the government, essentially saying if he can’t have what he wants, then no one can. And the causes he champions in this manner aren’t exactly winners. He says he supports personal liberties and freedom for all Americans. But when he says all, he doesn’t mean it.

He supports the freedom to marry anyone you want. As long as they are members of the opposite sex. He wants America to have the greatest healthcare in the world. As long as you can afford it. He thinks everyone can achieve the American dream. As long as you were born in the right place (which apparently includes Canada and not Mexico, aye?). To Cruz, freedom is not an inalienable right. It can be lost due to no fault of your own. You are born with it, if you are Cruz’s twin: wealthy, white and like-minded.

These hardline, ultra-conservative stances are just too absolutist and single-minded. Christie and the other moderate Republicans need to take back their party and bring it into the 21st century. New Jersey is now set to begin allowing same-sex marriages despite Christie’s personal opposition. Whether you agree with him or not, he is allowing people to exercise their own ability to make decisions. Freedom of choice should be a value conservatives hold dear, considering the Founding Fathers (and even the original tea partiers) championed it.

While most Republican governors in the country denied the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, Christie accepted it with arms wide open.

He saw it for what it was – a way to provide healthcare for those who can’t afford it. Even 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney championed the idea of an individual mandate, like that under the ACA, while he was governor of Massachusetts.

This willingness to hear out and try other ideas is what will make the moderate wing of the GOP successful in the future. Being a conservative absolutist is impossible in the long run. It would mean supporting Jim Crowe laws, the subjugation of women, and suppressing the vote of the poor and minorities. Relics of a bygone era. Or are they…?

Important Note: This is an individual opinion piece that may or may not reflect the views of the editorial board and the publication.