The Factions of the Right and How They Fight
There's a tendency in modern politics to treat political parties as monolithic structures. This tendency is more noticeable on the Left than on the Right, but both sides indulge in it more than they should.
The reality is, political parties are anything but monolithic, but given the limitations of human language, this kind of verbal shorthand is impossible to avoid. The terms "Left" and "Right" are themselves monolithic in nature, assuming as they do that everyone covered by them is essentially the same.
The Left is particularly fond of doing this, painting everyone on the Right with a broad brush and treating all of us as bigoted, fascist, intolerant bitter clingers who hate everyone and want to rule the world with an iron fist. The fact that it's not true is completely irrelevant to leftists.
Those of us who fall under the monolithic umbrella of the "Right" know that those on the "Left" aren't monolithic, and we often make note of it. We point out the hypocrisy of the Left eating its own as a result of leftists' constantly changing standards of who is the victim du jour. Feminists were considered victims until they began protesting the entrance of men into their sports, and then they were derided as intolerant bigots.
James Madison, writing under the pen name Publius, addressed the dangers of factions in the Federalist Papers No. 10. He noted, "The latent causes of faction are ... sown in the nature of man," and he spent much of his time discussing how to circumvent factions and reduce their influence on government.
Those of us on the Right (see how impossible it is to discuss these matters without using monolithic terms?) have absorbed Madison's warning so well that the very existence of factions within our own house is overlooked or viewed as a blemish when someone has the temerity to bring it up.
Nonetheless, there are, at a minimum, three different factions within the Right that are often at loggerheads with each other. This inner tension, almost the equivalent of an ongoing civil war, is a large part of the reason the Right is so ineffective against the Left.
Christians vs. Conservatives vs. Republicans
Contrary to popular opinion, Christians, conservatives, and Republicans are three entirely separate groups that only occasionally overlap. There are very few issues where all three groups are in agreement. Instead, the factions are heading in opposite directions on the vast majority of issues and policies.
The frustrations arising from this are the primary cause of the rise of the appellation RINO (Republican In Name Only). For many on the Right, RINO is a pejorative and a curse, used to describe those who say one thing during a campaign then act differently once the election is over. "RINO" is most frequently reserved for Republicans who claim to be pro-life when they need your vote, then ignore the issue as soon as they're safely ensconced in office.
Within the Christian faction are more factions (denominations), but generally speaking, they view the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. There are an increasing number of denominations that have swung to the Left or "gone over to the dark side," but of the ones that remain, their view of politics and the world is based on the Bible. These are mainly Evangelicals and traditionally minded Catholics.
The Republican faction is composed of those whose primary allegiance is to the Party. Whatever benefits the Party is what they support and defend. Republicans are further subdivided into groups who support bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to Democrats on virtually every issue and those whose bipartisanship is more limited. The former are usually the ones Christians sneeringly refer to as RINOs.
Conservatives are more difficult to quantify. As time marches on, once radical ideas gradually morph into traditions and institutions that conservatives will now try to conserve. Where they part ways with Christians is over such things as abortion, which has unquestionably become an established institution.
A House Divided
When Lincoln was running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 1858, he gave a speech that became known as his "house divided" speech about slavery. It cost him the election to the Senate but positioned him to win the presidency three years later in 1861.
The "house divided" concept came from the Bible, where Jesus said that if a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. Jesus's statement was recorded in all three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and was familiar to Lincoln's audience.
Two thousand years after Jesus said it and 160 years after Lincoln used it in Illinois, it is still as applicable as ever.
The Right is a house severely divided against itself. This is the source of the political weakness of the Right in the culture wars despite all the triumphs President Trump has been able to rack up during his time in the White House. It's why the Left has been able to impeach Trump without presenting a shred of evidence to back it up. Our internal division is the source of the Left's strength in opposing us and running roughshod over our ideals, proposals, and policies.
If the Right doesn't figure out a way to overcome our divisions and work together, our house will fall. As Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, "[w]e must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
Michael V. Wilson is an author, freelance writer, curmudgeon, and husband who writes for the joy of it at Scribe of Texas.