Ken Connor

The Blue Blood Republican establishment, on the other hand, has a system that works quite well for them and they have no interest in rocking the boat. Their interests are not ideological, they are pragmatic. For them, politics is about money and power. They invest in certain candidates as a cost of doing business and expect a return on their investment when their candidate wins. They are for big government when they need a bailout but against it when it hampers their misbehavior in the marketplace. They view the base with sniffing disdain and are put off by their preoccupation with provincial issues like abortion and gay marriage and their obsession with integrity, principle, and ideological purity.

Many pundits claim that Chris Christie is the man to bridge the gap between these two factions. Christie is a charismatic, straight-shooter who gets the job done in Trenton. He's done a remarkable job of working across the aisle to do good things for the people of New Jersey. For all his talent and appeal, however, Christie is no Ronald Reagan. And while he claims to be a conservative, what passes for conservatism in Newark won't pass the smell test in Nashville or New Orleans.

Bottom line: There's no end in sight to the tensions presently plaguing the GOP and there is no Ronald Reagan at hand who can bridge the gap between the Blue Bloods and the base. Given the nature of the growing divide, it appears that schism is imminent. The Republican base cares more about the future of America than it does about the future of the Party. They no longer believe that what's good for General Motors is good for the country. The Wall Street debacle and ensuing bailout taught them otherwise. We may soon see the rise of a real third party that aligns itself with candidates of different stripes who care more about principle than they do about politics. If the Tea Party can hang on to its principles and not succumb to the pressure to go along to get along, it may transform the face of American electoral politics.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.