Monday, January 28, 2008

Have Republicans Lost Their Way? (And Other Political Musings...)

I've spent the last hour and a half poring over the fascinating international edition of Newsweek (the Jan. 28, '08), all about Bush's leadership and the declining influence of the Republican party over the last few years. One article in particular caught my interest and I want to share a portion of it and open up this issue for discussion here, if you're willing.

"The resentments of every group that has felt ignored are being taken out on the Republican candidates."

Excerpts from "How My Party Lost Its Way", by Michael Gerson, President Bush's former speechwriter:

As each one of them steps forward, ... he is greeted by ideological sniping. Mike Huckabee is targeted by free marketers... for his economic "liberalism". John McCain is attacked for his heresies on immigration and campaign finance reform. Rush Limbaugh argues that the nomination of either candidate would "destroy the Republican Party." Mitt Romney attempts to avoid this kind of criticism by blending in...with his surroundings-- a social conservative in Iowa, an agent of change in New Hampshire, a protector of the auto industry in Michigan-- and gets criticized (including by me) for his inconsistencies.

In this cycle, many Republicans seem led to support their candidate by the process of elimination--"I guess I could live with X." At the same time, many Republicans seem led to oppose candidates passionately-- "The nomination of X would end Western civilization." This is a factionalism of Bolshevik fervor, and it is a bad sign. Parties that prefer purity to victory-- a la Goldwater and McGovern-- usually lose. At this moment, Republicans look like the party that wants to lose the most.
The first bolded sentence is interesting to me, because right now, I actually feel this way. Course, I'm passionate about Huckabee as the best contender for President, as probably all of you know. But there is one candidate left that stands a chance that I believe I absolutely could not support (and that's Romney- because I don't believe his change of heart about abortion. There are too many inconsistencies, too late in life, for me to believe that his conversion is about anything but political expediency). So,

Question #1 is this: Have you experienced this kind of vicious dislike for a major presidential contender (you don't have to even share who it's against-- I'd just be interested in how many people actually have felt this kind of emotion/passion
against a candidate!)?

The second bolded section, though, worries me... so,

Question #2 is: Do you think the Republican party is too fractured to mend the wounds (economic free marketers vs. evangelicals vs. libertarians vs. hawkish Republicans, etc.) and is doomed to lose in November 2008?

Gerson then finishes his article with an insightful point, which I believe has merit:
...[T]here is, perhaps, one large American political figure who could cause depressed, fractious Republicans to bind their wounds, downplay their divisions, renew their purpose, and join hands in blissful unity at the Minneapolis-St.Paul Republican convention.

And that figure is Hillary Clinton.


Question #3 is: What do you think about this last excerpt? Do you think Hillary-hatred is strong enough to unite people around even candidates that they have developed strong distaste for (during the primaries)? Is Hillary-hatred enough to revive a weakened Republican base and cause them to unite around a less-than-perfectly-pleasing-in-every-way candidate?

More personally, if you have a particular Republican candidate that you strongly dislike, can you project yourself into the future and consider if you could possibly support that person if it was a two-person X vs. Hillary race?

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed and encouraged... dialogue with me here about this!


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