The GOP civil war rages on
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During the height of the U.S. Civil War, President Lincoln said: "I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot." These famous words could serve as a guiding light for the Republican Party of today as its ongoing civil war continues unabated. Much like the war that threatened the nation centuries ago, today's protracted intra-party fight also threatens not just the party, but the nation as well. To illustrate the enormity of the situation: The GOP presidential front-runner and Fox News are on their second cease-fire; congressional republicans are locked in an intense battle over funding of the Export-Import Bank; and a cadre of far-right conservatives are willing to shut down the federal government in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. All of this before the first ballots have yet to be cast in the 2016 elections.


The establishment wing of the party has already suffered its first major casualty of the election cycle with the surprise resignation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). When news of Boehner's resignation was announced at the Value Voters Summit — a conservative gathering that took place in Washington recently — it was met with raucous applause from the audience. Unfortunately for the party and lawmakers in Washington, the battle has only just begun. Far-right Republicans are aiming their ire at current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyKinzinger: Republicans who join 'America First' caucus should be stripped of committees McCarthy: GOP not the party of 'nativist dog whistles' Pro-Trump lawmakers form caucus promoting 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MORE (R-Calif.) even before House Republicans take an official vote to replace Boehner. The Constitutional Rights PAC is leading a "Fire Kevin McCarthy" campaign to stop Boehner's chief lieutenant in his tracks. PAC Chairman Larry Ward said that "We are firing a shot across their bow that it is completely unacceptable to have a second coming of John Boehner." Ward went on to say that if McCarthy is the next Speaker, "they are in for another 'X-number of years' of battle with the conservative grassroots."

The internal fighting has become so intense it has infected the inner sanctum of the upper chamber. As I wrote previously in The Hill, "Gone are the days of intense deliberation and high-minded policy debates. The once-great body that spearheaded seminal legislation such as the Civil Rights Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, and the Social Security Act" is no more. The U.S. Senate, like the House, is now the stage for ugly infighting among Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Progressives put Democrats on defense MORE (R-Ky.) continues to ratchet up his opposition to the small but vocal cadre of conservative lawmakers seeking a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood. As a result, the calls for McConnell's ouster are growing louder and the showdown between the majority leader and presidential contender Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUS has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated Cruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol MORE (R-Texas) will loom large over the 2016 political landscape. If that were not enough, tension continues to mount over a long-running fight over the Export-Import Bank. This hotly contested issue over the little-known federal agency spilled onto the Senate floor, with Cruz accusing McConnell of lying regarding his intentions about the government-sponsored bank. This was followed by a stern rebuke of Cruz by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

As the battle lingers on all fronts, the GOP brand suffers nationally. A recent Zogby poll shows that millennials overwhelmingly support the Democrats; if they turn out in similar fashion to 2008 and 2012, the GOP will experience a blowout. The poll goes on to show that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, is leading by staggering margins among millennials over all GOP candidates, including outsiders Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.

With casualties continuing to mount, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed Planned Parenthood is view positively by a plurality of Americans. The organization, which saw its president on the hot seat at a recent congressional hearing, is view positively by 47 percent of Americans, while 31 percent view it negatively. Meanwhile, the GOP civil war rages, on shaping the national political discourse to the detriment of the party. Today's Republican leaders use President Reagan as a guide and understandably so, but perhaps they should look further back in history to the Republican who led the party and the nation through the Civil War. President Lincoln famously said: "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." Along with the nation, perhaps the GOP can be saved, as well.

Ham is a national political analyst and author of the bestselling book, The GOP Civil War: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party. Follow him @EKH2016.