The conflicts inside the GOP today just don’t line up in the configuration of a classic civil war. There are multiple issues involved, and the lawmakers on various sides of various issues don’t lean the same way on each issue. Republicans who are opponents on one issue are allies on another. Looking at the Senate, for example, it’s unlikely that there will be a total civil war between Senate Faction A and Senate Faction B when some members of the opposing factions are united in Faction C, or Faction D, or so on. In other words, it may be that the Republican Party is too divided to have a real civil war. Perhaps chaos would be a better description. We’ll know more later.
In other words, the party is divided every which way. And at least some of that division is entirely understandable. It’s what happens to parties when they don’t have a leader. And Republicans, after two straight presidential losses, have no one who even approaches national leadership. So factions appear and divisions worsen.
But the very number of divisions within the GOP makes it difficult to imagine the party falling into a classic civil war, with two sides lined up against each other over some irresolvable dispute. The coming battles inside the Republican party will be a series of moving fronts, with changing sides and changing tactics. It could be ugly at times, and it could be serious enough to ensure a chaotic presidential primary fight in 2015 and 2016. But all-out civil war? Probably not.