The Republican National Committee (RNC) is not content to become a regional party. It could have chosen an experienced dealmaker with links to the party’s Southern, rural, racist core of support. By choosing a minor elected official from Maryland, emphatically not a core Republican state, the RNC is signaling that it wants to make the party relevant again to voters in places like Maryland.
In attempting this, though, the RNC will have to lock horns with the Republicans in the House. The overwhelming majority of Republican House members are from heavily Republican states. None, for example, are from New England states. In the past week, the House Republicans have decided to vote unanimously against economic recovery and a four-month delay in the digital conversion for TV broadcasts. Voting mindlessly as a bloc against popular initiatives, the House Republicans seem to be saying they don’t care what the country thinks, wants, or needs. They are almost daring their own constituents to remember to vote them out next year. At the same time, by locking themselves out of the legislative process, they have lost any influence on the political agenda. This allows the House Democrats to look like the party of prosperity and hard work, casting the Republicans as the slackers and naysayers, the “party of no” as one of them put it. If the RNC cannot persuade the House Republicans to get involved in the policy issues that could help to rebuild the party, the Republican Party will be hard pressed to take on an identity or a direction.