Battles for GOP Identity are Not New


Wendell Wilkie

Michael Ebner of Lake Forest College reminds us that the GOP has been at war with itself for a long time.  These battles for the soul of the party between “outsiders” and “establishment” candidates are not new.

Here is a taste of his recent piece at History News Network:

Largely overlooked in commentaries about the premature termination of the campaign of Jeb Bush for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination we find a deeply embedded narrative best understood as an endless intra-party struggle.

Among the most visible players in this enduring storyline – most of them familiar to this very day – were Robert A. Taft, Wendell Wilkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Earl Warren, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Barry M. Goldwater, Nelson A. Rockefeller, George Romney, Richard M. Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

An early hint of this came during the 1920s and 1930s. A handful of nationally prominent Republicans – Fiorello LaGuardia, George Norris, and Harold Ickes – edged away from their party affiliation. Although none of them became a bona fide Democrat, they regarded themselves as independents who aligned themselves with the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Robert M. LaFollette broke with the Republicans in the election of 1924, seeking the presidency as a third-party candidate.

Read the rest here.