I think it’s clear now that yes, a split is going to form in the Republican Party, and the first fight is going to be over how to frame Mitt Romney’s election fail. Marco Rubio, the pundit class’s front-runner for the 2016 GOP nomination, is joining Bobby Jindal in pushing back against Rush Limbaugh’s meme that everyone who voted for Barack Obama just want “free stuff”. Romney picked that excuse amongst the others orbiting the toilet drain since the election ended.
This argument isn’t new for Romney, as I’m sure you’re all familiar with his infamous 47% comments. What’s worth noting is that most conservatives ran away from those comments when they came out and more than just a few openly blamed them for Romney’s loss, if he did in fact go on to lose.
It took Rush Limbaugh to fully embrace that theory for the right to adopt it as their own, and that’s exactly what happened. I listened to Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for a week solid after the election (and regret not listening to the few days before) and Rush was calling Obama “Santa Claus”, and saying his supporters were people who just want free TVs, free phones, free food, and feel no need to work.
He worked that over a bunch of times during every show and it didn’t take long for the right to start repeating it, including Romney himself. So the split we’re looking at here is between the old guard with subtle divisive racism and racial resentment, and the new moderates that have been very successful at winning gubernatorial races in blue states over the past five years.
It’ll be interesting to see who wins the war.
You can add Kelly Ayotte (R-NH, Former NH AG) to the list.