How Republicans can bring order out of the GOP's chaos
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The Republican floundering in D.C. is the all-too-public machinations of a party still trying to organize and develop policy while holding the reins of power. Our president and, by default, leader of the party was elected without a developed set of policy details, leaving the GOP without a detailed bicameral governing agenda, a unified message or even a common set of priorities. The resulting chaos is painful to watch.

Why does a party that won and won decisively need to organize? Let us remember, as recently as last October, after the year-long GOP presidential primary when an outsider won, it seemed obvious that the GOP needed a reset.

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The debates and turmoil of the primaries left our party reeling with deep ideological, demographic and strategic divides. Pundits and party leaders were calling for an autopsy to see what went wrong and expected to spend 2017 rebuilding the brand. However, the rebuild never took place. Because in November Trump and the Republicans won, all was forgiven and forgotten.

Unfortunately, the need to unify Republicans remains; winning only exasperated the problem. We are a party held together by redistricting, the overreach and united opposition to the Obama administration, and a handful of policy hangovers from our time in the minority. Republicans are torn between the pragmatism of Reagan and the conservatism of Reagan — both sides clinging to the realities and myths of the last president that united the GOP.

The modern GOP is scarred by primaries, litmus tests and outside groups that discourage deal making, where chairmen, senior statesmen and leaders lose elections over the mere suggestion of cutting a deal. Members are shamed if they direct federal funds to their congressional districts, yet lose in primaries for not doing enough for their constituents. We have either too many conservatives or not enough depending on where you fall on the spectrum.

The current coalition of congressional Republicans is a ragtag group, elected as individuals on a variety of platforms and priorities. The conservative revolution that saw the Republican Study Committee grow from 20 members to over 170 in a decade, fell short of 218; it then split itself in two with the birth of the Freedom Caucus.

Meanwhile, the Tuesday Group that almost disappeared reemerged as a counterpoint to the far right. Sprinkle in a handful of old bulls with decades of pragmatic seniority and parliamentary know-how and a couple of libertarians and you have the coalition that makes up the Republicans in Congress.

At the root of the post-Reagan conservative movement that grew during the late ’90s and blossomed in the 2010 election, is a core belief that bad process makes bad policy. It is the anger at the process that is the root of the earmark ban, the original opposition to ObamaCare, and ultimately the Trump victory.

The process is the swamp. So stop bad process; don’t repeat it. Acting as if Democrats do not exist and insisting on the use of reconciliation to take on healthcare and tax reform only highlight the divides in the GOP. Of all groups, the GOP should know a partisan process will not make good law, permanent law, or conservative law; it is the very process we ran against for the last several cycles.

Moving Republicans from a coalition in the majority to a governing majority will take time, something we may not have. However, a good first step would be to start moving regular bills in regular order. If the public has to watch our infighting, expand the debate and trust the legislative process. The tyranny of the minority needs to be tested, and should be tested on the House and Senate floor, not in primaries.

Sure, there will be losers, but it might also bring structure and unity to a majority in need of both.

Brian Wild is the policy director with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a law firm based in Washington, D.C. He was senior advisor to the Speaker of the House John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE and served as deputy assistant for legislative affairs to Vice President Dick Cheney.


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