Though I have no dog in the fight, I have watched with some interest the ongoing battle between New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball and what’s left of the 20th century GOP establishment here in NH.
It seems like everyone has an opinion about what’s happening in Concord. And why not? The battle for control of NH’s GOP machinery has been public, nasty and protracted, which makes it political catnip.
But the Kimball fight, I would argue, is not much more than a temporary sideshow, a distraction from the much more serious identity crisis that the NHGOP will wrestle with over the next several election cycles.
What identity crisis you might ask?
Taxes I would respond.
For 25 years it has been sacred GOP theology to never increase tax revenues for any reason. Organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform and The Club For Growth have raised and spent billions of dollars to brand the Republican Party as the “No tax increases!” party.
And, by any honest accounting, these groups have been incredibly successful. Not only at winning elections (and lining their own pockets), but their “No tax increases!” pledge has become the thread that ties the various Republican camps together to form a majority coalition.
Think about it, what does the Mitt Romney wing of the Republican Party have in common with the Ron Paul wing? Or with the Michelle Bachmann wing? Or the Jack Kimball wing with the John Sununu wing? Almost nothing except that they all absolutely and totally reject tax increases of any kind under any circumstance. Period.
And to understand that is to understand the coming Republican identity crisis.
Because the days of “No tax increases!” are gone. America’s $14.6(ish) trillion in hard debt and $60(ish) trillion in unfunded entitlement liabilities will see to that. And smart conservatives already know this, even if only a few of them have the guts to currently say it out loud .
What is less clear is what exactly the Republican Party will stand united for once the “No tax increases!” thread is untied from all the various groups and yanked back.
To me, that is a far more interesting and relevant question than talking about the Jack Kimball mess. Political catnip aside.