Republicans cannibalize their best candidates during the primary process.

I wonder if the Republicans really want to win back the White House.

The more polls show their popularity dropping due to the shutdown, the more intransigent the far-right wing of the party becomes. Instead of picking up seats in the midterm elections like they did in 2010, the GOP risks losing ground because voters are blaming them for the problems in Congress that led to some of the government shutting down.

That might have to do with House Speaker John Boehner telling multiple media outlets that the Republicans had to shut down the government in a last ditch effort to stop Obamacare.

In this country, the phrase last ditch effort actually comes from the southern soldiers in the Civil War who used trenches as part of their defense system against Union forces. They were ready to move from trench to trench as they were overrun by a stronger opponent until they had no ditch left to hide in. It seems like a parallel could be drawn here, but I digress.

I can’t tell the future. But I can tell the past.

Republicans are losing the White House because they cannibalize their best candidates during the primary process. The Democrats are far more forgiving of candidates in the primaries. They want a candidate from the left, but they don’t mind if he or she stands with one foot slightly off the party platform in order to appeal to the independent voters in a dozen swing states who decide every presidential election.

The Republican idea of loyalty tests and the need to be radically conservative on every issue naturally makes that candidate less popular with voters who don’t identify as Republicans. If they wanted a candidate like that, they would identify as Republicans.

That’s where Chris Christie comes in. He will be needing a new job when the next Presidential election comes around. He looks very solid in his re-election bid as New Jersey’s governor and would be very likely to turn that blue state bright red if he were the candidate in 2016.

Something tells me he would have a much better shot than most in neighboring Pennsylvania – a swing state won twice by Obama – and even Virginia.

Let’s face it. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and the rest of the rural red states aren’t going anywhere. I could run as a Republican in those states and would beat any Democrat without running a single ad.

Christie is the best early candidate to actually bridge the gap from the hyper-conservative TEA Party and the moderate Democrats and Independents who don’t have their minds already made up.

But can he even win a primary with the current climate in his party? He was eviscerated for working with Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is quick to criticize ideas from both sides of the aisle and equally quick to work with leaders from another party.

I never voted for a Democrat for President before Barack Obama. The Republican primary process has become such a farce that the candidates it spits out are unappealing and scarred so badly from the interparty skirmishes that they can’t appeal to anyone other than those who reside on the furthest feather on the right wing.

Christie is losing weight and looks to be preparing for battle in a couple of years. But he shouldn’t have to ask Sara Palin to the Conservative Prom to win the nomination.

Time will tell on which candidate the Republicans can and will produce. The Democrats think the race will be between Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. I think a new voice will pass by both of them again like Obama in 2008. That storyline worked for the Democrats and if a strategy works, I stick with it.

Unfortunately, the current leadership of the GOP seems compelled to stick with a strategy that has failed them twice.

Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: