Once upon a time, partisan politics was a simple business. There were two major parties, and they both had simple strategies for staying in power. The voters were attracted to either the Democrats or the Republicans based on their philosophy and the vision of their party leaders. Elections were won or lost based on the strength of the party machines and their loyal soldiers.
But the politics of yesterday have disappeared, and the parties will never look the same again. Both are currently split into two factions. If you’re a Republican at the national level, you’re either pro-Donald Trump or anti-Trump. And if you’re a Democrat, you’re either a traditional middle-of-the-road true believer or a so-called progressive. And regrettably, neither of the factions in either party is prepared to work with the other side.
The next important election will take place in 2022. The final tallies will determine which party will control the House and the Senate. President Biden needs a Democratic Party victory to help him get his programs through Congress. The Republicans want to regain power so they can be better positioned to retake the White House in 2024. But the GOP pro-Trump wing and the Democratic progressives are not on the same playing field as the parties’ two traditional wings.
The pro-Trump Republicans are prepared to take on the favored party candidates because the former president is looking to punish any candidates who voted to impeach him. The progressive Democrats are anxious to gain power and influence and have no loyalty to the party. A case in point illustrating the Republicans’ challenge is Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a loyal party member who occasionally casts a vote with the Democrats on an issue of conscience. She gets a 98 percent rating on voting with her fellow Republicans, but her vote to impeach President Trump put her in the Trump doghouse, and she is now threatened with a primary challenge.
Led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans have pledged to support Murkowski and provide funds for her contest if she decides to run for re-election. She will not be easy to beat under any circumstances. She is the second-most-senior woman in the Senate. She won one of her elections as a write-in candidate after losing the party nomination. Her father was governor of Alaska. But despite her strong credentials, the former president has vowed to challenge her.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.