Why the Republicans Should Go Ahead and Have Their Civil War

Watching gleefully while your opponents tear themselves apart is a bipartisan Washington pastime. For many years, Republicans were able to do much more of it than Democrats, for the simple reason that Democrats tend to bicker among themselves more, and nothing produces such bickering like lost presidential elections. But now, having lost two such elections in a row, it's the Republicans who are at each other's throats, and Democrats who look on with a smile. I always find these arguments interesting, not because I enjoy giving a Nelson Muntz "Ha-ha!" to the GOP (OK, maybe just a little) but because their outcome ends up shaping our politics in the coming years.

So I have a message for my Republican friends: Ignore the Democrats laughing at you about the infighting. Squabbling amongst yourselves is exactly what you should be doing right now.

It's hard to keep that in mind when your opponents are belittling you and columnists are shaking their heads at your disarray (see here for example). But this is an excellent opportunity to do some soul-searching. Someone is going to win these internal arguments, and when they do, their theory will be tested in 2016. And it isn't as though Republicans have anything better to do. Sure, they can continue to damage their public image by creating more fiscal crises, but how much work does that really take?

So Republicans should go ahead and have their civil war. Actual voters won't pay any attention anyway, and perhaps at the end of it they'll have a party with a better chance of appealing to a broad public. That is, if the right people win.

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