Friday, November 10, 2006

Can the GOP Change? Should it?

There is an old saw that Democrats and the mainstream media hold on to: that is, that the GOP has expelled its moderates and will never, ever change. Some believe that moderates should just become Democrats.

In reality, while it is very, very true that the GOP's moderates are fewer in number than they were in the days when moderate and liberal Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits were in power (and even fewer after last Tuesday), moderates still exist and still are getting elected. Arnold Schwarzenegger was just re-elected this past Tuesday in ultra-blue California. The far right does control the party, but moderates, to paraphase Monty Python, aren't dead yet.

I'm not trying to paint a rosy picutre, just one that isn't as bleak as some point it out to be.

I sometimes think that Democrats want to have a Republican party that is as far to the right as it can be. They think that if the party is sooooo reactionary, people won't want to elect them and the Democrats will remain in power in a permanent majority much like the Social Democratic parties in Scandanavia.

The reality, is that the GOP has veered right for decades and people still elected Republicans who can be very reactionary. The thing is, in America, the electorate is more volitile than it is in places like Sweden and grows impatient when the party in power behaves badly. If the Dems don't satisfy the public, they will go for the other viable option even if it is radical. If you want an example, see the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004.

We need to have two parties that reach towards the center, not just one. We need to have both a center-left party and a center-right party. We need to do that so that when one party loses, we know that there won't be people foisting a radical agenda on the public.

And that's why I remain in this party. Yeah, we needed to be spanked on Tuesday and thankfully we were. This might make the party reach out towards the center and kick Karl Rove's "divide and govern" strategy to curb. I want to be a voice for change.

I'm thankful that Dems decided to listen to the center, but I'm not satisfied with only one party doing that. We need to get rid of the radicalism on both sides of the isle and get people who are interested in acutally governing the nation than in push their ideological agendas on people.

Republicans can change just as the Democrats have done. Whether they decide to that in the coming days and months, remains to be seen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate this blog because I appreciate seeing someone, especially a Republican, being able to take a critical look at his own party and letting his views decide which party he is in rather than letting his party decide his views.

In terms of social stances, such as abortion, gay marriage, civil rights (speaking of things like the Patriot Act) I align with the typical Democratic platform. For economic things, I tend to align with the Republican party. However, I have consistently voted Democratic since I reached voting age in 2004 because the Republican party seems so dogmatic and, frankly, scary. I have to admit that it's possible that this administration and the direction of the Republican party for the past 10 years has made me forever wary of the Republican party.

But as a college student in RI, I was sad to Senator Chaffee go, though I understood why RI felt a Democratic Senate majority was more important than the actual candidate. Chaffee was a member of the Republican party that I respected as someone that actually made votes based upon what he thought was right, willing at times to break with his party if it conflicted with his own stance or that of his constituents. Too many people on both sides of the aisle (but it seems to me, especially on the right) vote so that their party wins the vote and not necessarily so that their moral or intellectual stance wins the vote.

I do not like the way that Senate committee leaders are appointed so as to come from the majority party and the way our houses are structured so as to have majority leaders and minority leaders. This forces voters to consider candidates' parties with at least equal weight to their candidates personal political platforms. It also makes breaking with ones own party as a and voting conscientiously as a member of Congress more difficult because, say in the case of Senator Chaffee, you will lose votes from both within your party for "undermining" your party's interests, in addition to not getting votes from without your party because voters are forced to think in terms of needing the party that best represents them in the majority. If the houses were not structured to rest on this two party dichotomy, there wouldn't need to be so much pressure for representatives to have complete party unity all the time. It is the structure of the houses that forces parties further from the center and forces voters to become party voters. The mentality of complete alliance with the party of your initial choosing and each party's willingness to characterize the other as evil and always wrong cuts political dialogue and honest open political thought on individual issues.

That's why I'm glad to see someone both claim to be a part of a party, but clearly not have the belief that his party is always right in all circumstances, someone who hasn't given up his own mind and beliefs in favor of those of his party leaders.