How the farce in Washington mirrors recent GOP activity in Greenwich

How the farce in Washington mirrors recent GOP activity in Greenwich

Just when Republicans thought their party couldn’t dig itself any deeper, it has once again defied expectations. The circus that is the election for Speaker of the House of Representatives is a bi-product of another example of the tail wagging the dog in the Republican Party. In many ways, what is unfolding in Washington bears striking similarities to what happened in Greenwich last year. A minority of hardline ideologues are holding the Republican party hostage while at the same time causing untold damage to their party’s reputation. All in the name of pushing the party further to the right and further out of touch with the average moderate Republican, independent and unaffiliated voters it desperately needs to appeal to in order to win elections.

The problems within the Republican Party will not be easy to solve. The party has won just one popular presidential vote since 1988, and its tentacles will likely continue to shrink as long as its far-right wing is allowed to command its course. The 20 or so House Republicans determined to block the election of Kevin McCarthy as Speaker have put their narrow personal interests ahead of everything else. While Representative McCarthy is far from perfect, in the absence of any viable alternative, his ascent to the speakership should have been confirmed if for no other reason than to allow the House to get down to business. However, he has effectively surrendered to this group, compromising himself if he becomes Speaker with the multitude of concessions he has made to them in his pursuit of the presidency.

This far-right minority of House Republicans has sent a message to the American people that not only will they not work with Democrats, they will not work with their Republican colleagues either.

It follows historically poor national and local Republican midterm election results, fueled largely by what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously called a “quality of candidates” problem and the leadership of disabled national and local party. Subsequently, the far right wing of the Republican Party has doubled down on their defeatist strategies instead of owning up to their mistakes and reversing course. This stubborn unwillingness to face political reality will only exacerbate existing problems and disillusion more voters.

The question is, what can be done to get the Republican Party back on track? The damage done by Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters is profound both nationally and locally. His influence has seeped into the party and it will take political will to clean up the mess. Although recent signs suggest his grip on the party is beginning to loosen, more needs to be done. In a heavily Democratic state like Connecticut, smart, moderate, center-right Republicans have a better chance of running competitive campaigns than their far-right peers. This was made abundantly clear by the results in the nationwide races last November, particularly at Greenwich. Local Democrats and even the incumbent Democratic governor, Ned Lamont, smartly ran down the middle during their campaigns and were rewarded with landslide election victories. Simply put, Connecticut Republicans need to nominate candidates who will appeal to a wider swath of voters, which will give the party a better chance of winning. Real change starts with registered Republicans at the ballot box, and the way to do that is through local city party committees.

In Greenwich, the Republican Town Committee (RTC) is responsible for nominating qualified candidates and providing them with support during campaigns and once in office. Local party organizations can also play an important role in helping with messaging. Our RTC has lost its way. Instead of focusing on the local and state issues that matter most to voters, they have become captive to the divisive issues of the national culture war. They have also botched their messaging by relying on controversial, pro-MAGA local Republicans to deliver a negative message to voters with disastrous consequences. Last November, this misguided strategy produced the single worst election results for Republicans in Greenwich history.

Taking control of the local party a year ago, these far-right local Republicans may have changed the party’s leadership, but with no political gain to show for it, their revolt is nothing more than a hollow victory. So what can traditionally moderate Republicans do to fix this mess in Greenwich? This group is likely to represent the majority of their party and may determine the future path of its trajectory. A year from now there will be a Republican Town Committee caucus. To restore the local GOP and get it back on track will require moderate, registered Republicans to come out en masse and support RTC candidates who represent their interests and not just those of a small minority party. This means that moderate Republicans can no longer afford to remain complacent about what is happening in the country. Apathy will continue to lead to undesirable results.

My fellow Greenwich Republican Ed Dadakis was right when he recently wrote that “the Republican message still resonates in Greenwich — if it’s the right message.”

The message being spread by the local RTC was wrong. This group, like their hard-line brethren in Washington, does not speak for the majority of Republicans. If they continue to double down on their failed strategy, it is not in the best interest of the Republican Party or our community. As I heard a commentator say on television recently, “the far right wing of the Republican Party is burning their house down because they are excited by the flames.”

Dan Quigley is the former chairman of the Greenwich Township Republican Committee.

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