Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From a "Cowering" Centrist Republican

Earlier today I was perusing Mat Pruitt's blog. He has an interesting post called "It's Our Party Too" where he talks about the need for moderates in the GOP to come up with a vision. He made some sense until he reached the last paragraph:

I am sick and tired of centrist Republican groups that have been the true heart of the party since Abraham Lincoln, cowering to the self righteous right wing that has led this country in the wrong direction.

As someone who has been part of Log Cabin Republicans and Republicans for Environmental Protection, I was taken aback by Mathew's comments. I know people like Martha Marks, the founder of REP, who are not cowering to the far right, instead they are challenging them and willing to fight back against the right wing. Then there are people like Log Cabin and it's current President, Patrick Guerriero, who took a brave stance in 2004 and chose not to endorse the President for his support for the federal marriage amendment. (Guerriero wrote a great op-ed last year urging closeted gay conservatives to come out.)

And then there is my friend Jim. Jim is a quiet unassuming guy around my age who is gay and a life-long Republican. He is a Republican in the moderate tradition. Now, you need to know that the GOP in Minnesota is controlled by the religious right, with moderates being a dying breed. The GOP has been solidly behind efforts to get a so-called marriage amendment in this state. It was in this context, that Jim went to his district convention and wrote a resolution condeming the marriage amendment. It did surprisingly well. Jim and I know it won't change the party platform or policy, but he had some balls to do what he did.

In all of these examples, I don't see anyone cowering. What I see are people that are trying taking on a herculean task and doing their level best.

Mathew says that it's his part too and he is right. But if it is, then do something to take it back from the far right, don't just sit there and bitch, and please don't castigate the people who are doing a thankless job of working for change in the GOP.

On an aside, withdrawing support from moderate elected officials because they are in the same party as the nutcases it a silly idea. It's not as much that these seats will go to the Dems, but that we will lose those moderate voices in the party. And don't think that "destroying the village in order to save it" is going to work. All it will do make the social conservatives think they weren't conservative enough.

Some of our fellow bloggers on the Left have come up with an agenda of sorts and there is the Euston Manifesto which was written by British lefties who wanted to find a way to respond to our current post-9/11 world instead of using the tired old "America is evil" line. In my own humble opinion, I think it's time for centrist Republicans to come up with something if their own. So, I ask my fellow Centrist Republican bloggers: are you up for the challenge? I dare you. I double-dog dare you.

I'll be interested to see who takes the bait.


Mathew said...

Okay, maybe cowering wasn't the right word to use. There are instances when centrist Republicans have taken on the right wing and done so effectively. I do not mean to diminish the efforts of Mr. Guerrero who has done a better job in his role than most in the past.

My problem is on a more macro-level, and you sort of amplify the point that maybe I didn't articulate well enough. Moderate Republicans at a national level lack teeth and unity. They have no identity.

To her credit, I think Governor Whitman understands that with her recent book and the organization of the "My Party Too" PAC, which is a step in the right direction.

You said:

"Centrist groups are trying their level best to counter the far right, but I can tell you it's hard. We have to deal with people who can complain but then don't get involved in trying to change the party. There is a lot of either apathy or helplessness among moderates and its damn hard to get people to see that they can change things."

Exactly, I get that. How many mainstreet, REP, or log cabin Republicans walk into the stove and take the heat at local party caucuses? I would venture to say it is a slim minority of them. Having an organization and attending it's meetings is not enough. Yeah, we all disagree with those who are actually in chage, big deal. Moderates have to go where decisions about platforms, candidate endorsements, and the party vision are made, which is very difficult to do as one individual. I am no better than most. I used to attend the conventions and caucuses at the local level, but quit when the name calling and finger pointing became too much to take. If there was an organized, concerted effort to actually take over party organization's than maybe this would be a little easier.

Although certain local organization's are doing what they can and standing up for what is right, on the national level all that is being done is mostly bullet points and press releases.

The thing is that it is going to get worse before it gets better. You think the right wing is mean and jaded now, wait until they see moderates within the party as a threat. All hell is going to break loose, and it has got to happen soon if Giuliani or McCain are to get the nomination in 2008.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Dennis: I helped nominate Judy Baar Topinka for governor, a pro-choice, pro-gay Republican. Will centrist Democrats come and support us, or will we have to go back to relying on conservative Christians to win? Consider the Illinois gubernatorial race to be an experiment.

On the national level, I'm baffled why democrats oppose religious fundamentalists at home, but support them abroad. Ahmadinejad, for instance, goes on and on about how he's going to incinerate the Jews, and Democrats blame America and George Bush. What's wrong with this picture?

Centrist said...

check this guy out he's running as a moderate republican in Tom Delay's district, much to the chagrin of the Delay crowd.