No wonder Thom Tillis is avoiding all those forums. While he may be angering his base, he’s avoiding the crazy topics like whether or not to impeach Obama. Tillis understands that taking a stand to impeach the president makes him unelectable in the general election and taking a stand against impeachment in the primary could hurt him with GOP primary voters. It’s quite the conundrum.
And Tillis’s decision to avoid engaging his primary opponents underscores the Republicans’ broader electability problem. The GOP base is increasingly out of sync with the overall electorate. Their priorities are Obamacentric. They want to impeach the president and repeal Obamacare. They are still sure that the president is coming after their guns and they are howling over Obama’s State of the Union promise to use executive orders if Congress isn’t willing to act.
The majority of the American public, on the other hand, is focused on more mundane things like getting the country back to work and dealing with income inequality. While they may say they don’t like Obamacare people still overwhelmingly wanted health care reform. In 2007, before Obama took office, 69% of the people said that the health care system was in crisis or had major problems and the issue followed only the Iraq War in importance to voters. In essence, the people want Congress to do stuff.
In contrast, the Republican base is pretty satisfied with gridlock. In their view, government is a necessary evil and the less of it the better. For them, the do-nothing Congress was far better than a Congress passing laws and making policies that might change the status quo.
And this is the dilemma facing Speaker Tillis. If he engages the GOP base, he will almost certainly have to take positions on issues that could kill his bid, either by losing the base or losing the middle. If he avoids the base, he may lose their trust and they might stay home in November if he becomes the GOP nominee.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >