The political in-fighting within the GOP literally is the chickens coming home to roost.
I am finding that most conservatives have some Libertarian leanings. What did we conservatives get during the Bush years?
Entitlement reform? Nope. Bush talked about Social Security but never talked much about its unsustainable trajectory. Instead, he was all gung-ho for partial privatization. The problem is it only exacerbated the funding problems, like any other Ponzi Scheme SS needs current payees to fund current recipients. Taking funding out only would have exacerbated the problem. On that front, if the GOP was truly about limited government they would have been discussing SS's insolvent trajectory and would have discussed ways to deal with it: Raising the eligibility age, weakining COLA, means-testing for bennies, etc. If he was a true limited government conservative he would have pushed for an optional reduction in the payroll tax in exchange for reduced benefits down the road thus arguing that by putting more money back into the hands of the individual, they will make smarter decisions for themselves than the government ever could.
Take down the Dept of Education? Nope, we got NCLB.
Take on Medicare reform? Nope, we got a new entitlement, Medicare Part D.
Increased respect for civil liberties? Nope, we got the Patriot Act and DHS, a brand new government agency.
Curtail senseless regulations? Nope, we got more.
Sound fiscal policy? Nope, we get next to zero interest rates which contributed to the loose money that collapsed the financial and housing sector.
Balanced budgets and debt reductions? Are you joking, we got eye-popping annual deficits.
I could go on but I think you get the point.
Fast forward to the present. The GOP base doesn't trust the establishment. Liberals wrongly conclude that the Tea Party is a racist reaction to Obama winning in '08. The Tea Party is a combination of pushback to Obama's desire to swing this country far to the left AND it's a pushback to establishment GOP. This is why The Cruz's and Paul's are so popular with the base and so unpopular with the establishment. The GOP establishment claims to be about limited government but once they get power they are all about expanding the state.
Democrats on the other hand make no bones about their desire to expand the state. Liberals have a political party they can identify with, a party that is at least somewhat in tune with their base. Not so with the GOP which is why you are seeing this 'civil war' within the party.