Can't the GOP just get along?

A South Carolina Republican who's taken heat from the right lately says the Reagan coalition is at an end

Published November 13, 2009 11:14PM (EST)

Even as the Republicans try to shift focus to what they see as the Democrats’ loss of political capital, the ruptures in the GOP just won’t disappear. Now, Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., has brought the spotlight back to the party’s warring factions. In an interview with the Greenville News, Inglis said the famed Reagan coalition of social and fiscal conservatives is “running on fumes.”

Inglis, as a self-described member of the “religious right,” goes on to tell the paper that he is unable to identify with what he calls the “hard right” faction of the party (i.e., the economically conservative branch), which he says “doesn’t care about abortion. They just want you, government, out of their pocketbook, by golly.” Certain “hard right” activists, Inglis claims, have told him that they are willing to let people without health insurance “die on the steps of the hospital” to make a point about the problem of “free riders.”

And it’s here that Inglis is confronted with the classic WWJD dilemma: “I’m thinking there was a guy named Jesus who had some things to say about these kinds of concepts. And I don’t want to live in a society that lets a few test cases die on the steps of the hospital.”

That said, it’s not as though Inglis is about to cross the aisle on healthcare (or much else for that matter), he’s voted with his GOP colleagues in the House 92.2 percent of the time -- including on a vote against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance program.

Inglis does, however, have a history of -- to coin a phrase -- going rogue on the Republican Party. Earlier this year, he called on Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., to apologize to President Obama after Wilson infamously shouted out “You Lie” during Obama’s speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of the Congress. Inglis also came under fire from constituents in a town hall meeting last summer when he advised them not to listen to Glenn Beck. And when faced with the prospect of Gov. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., turning down hundreds of millions of dollars from Obama’s stimulus package, Inglis told his party to “lose the stinking rot of self-righteousness.”

Of course, Inglis’s feuds with fellow Republicans haven't always been about moderation: During Mitt Romney’s run for the GOP presidential nomination, Inglis told the former Massachusetts governor in no uncertain terms that Mormonism could not be equated with Christianity.

By Emily Holleman

Emily Holleman is the editor of Open Salon.

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