Wednesday, June 14, 2006

On The Republican Party, Part Two

As a moderate Republican (feeling everyday like a "failed Republican") there are days I feel like a spouse who knows their partner is sleeping around with some cheap whore. These days the GOP is sleeping with the far right Christianists and doing all it can to please them with silly things like a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, a flag burning amendment and trying to get rid the estate tax (which I will explain in a later post). This "sleeping around" has caused moderates Republicans and independents like myself from not being so crazy in supporting the GOP this fall.

In a worthwhile op-ed Sarah Chamberlin Resnick, the head of the Republican Mainstreet Partnership talks about how the party needs to reach out to independents if they want to remain in power come fall.

She hits some important notes in the op-ed. If the Dems do gain more seats it will be at the expense of those moderates who have stood against the far right on many issues:
In what may be the cruelest of ironies, if Republicans are punished by independent voters in the midterms, it will be the centrist, independent Republicans from the Northeast who will be the most likely victims. For Democratic strategists and left-wing interest groups hoping for a Speaker Pelosi, a Republican legislative agenda that plays only to the conservative base this year is a dream come true.

Resnick suggests the party focus on the basics and less on the wedge issues.

All of this is very good, but don't hold your breath that it will happen. I think the party as it is has welded itself to the far right base and is not planning to change course anytime soon. What's sad is that we might see good moderates like Chris Shays and Nancy Johnson of Connecticut and Linc Chafee in Rhode Island be defeated and make the party more radical and less open to change. In a way, this happened to the Dems a decade ago, when the crushing defeat of 1994 sent a good number of Southern, moderate Democrats packing and leaving the party more liberal than it used to be.

With that said, I think the GOP's tango with the Christianists will come at a price. Charging RINO shares a piece in the LA Times (see the "failed Republican" link above) about how many frustrated moderates are leaving the Republican party and joining the Democrats. Now, if there is a state that was incredibly Republican, that was Kansas. However the focus on gay marriage, evolution and abortion has sent some moderates packing. What was once the state that had solid Republicans like Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, now has a state attorney general that wants to impose his far right agenda under the guise of protecting children.

Jeremy hope this is the start of a trend. While I don't want to see good moderates leave the party, I share that hope. The GOP needs to realize that parties are won by the center, NOT by clinging to a base of nuts. I'm not crazy about big government liberalism, but big government conservatism (in the form of banning gay marriage and other "values" issues) is even scarier.

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