Save the GOP? Why?

Save the GOP? Why?


Two days ago at The Carpetbagger Report, Steve Benen published a post re: the implosion of the Republican Party, writing:

… I often wonder how, exactly, someone looks at the Republican Party of 2007 — its leaders, its decisions, its priorities, its conduct — and says, ‘You know, that’s the party for me.’

When I read that line, I responded with an audible “ouch.”  You see, earlier this year, after many months of wondering around in the political desert, toying with status as an Independent or possibly a Democrat, I finally decided to stick with the GOP, fighting for its reform; fighting to reclaim it; to take it back from the mean-spirited theocrats and their enablers who now rule it; and return it to its roots as the party of personal liberty and anti-government intrusion.

Although my confidence is regularly shaken when I read comments like Benen’s and others’, I quickly remind myself that I’m not doing this to save the status quo. I’m doing it to regain the magic and meaning of the Party of 1860 and Lincoln, 1904 and Roosevelt, 1952 and Eisenhower, 1980 and Reagan. In other words, I’m not doing this to save the party of 2007 but refurbish and relaunch the party of 2010 and 2012.  I’m doing it because I believe our government is strongest and most effective when there are at least two, vibrant political parties that can check-and-balance each other, much as the various branches of government were designed to do.

What’s amazing is that, on my journey to this end, I’ve discovered something I didn’t expect: I’m not alone.   Take Dennis Sanders, for instance. Dennis is gay, black, Republican (how’s that for cognitive dissonance?), and one of the smartest, most decent, most reasonable people I’ve met since I’ve become active in the ‘sphere.

Dennis is also the person who encouraged me (a) to reach out to and get active in one of the major moderate Republican groups (I chose the Republican Leadership Council) and (b) to understand that there are indeed moderate Republicans in major offices.  Unfortunately, they often fear public displays of moderation because Karl Rove and Crew have convinced them that “the base” is entirely made up of intolerant theocrats.

Dennis’ opinion: The GOP will change when its leaders realize that “the base” includes more moderate, reasonable, tolerant, diverse voters than it does voters who mirror the caricature painted by Rove, et. al.

For that reason, I’ve started a grassroots movement to raise and focus the voices of moderate Republicans (and Independents, too) — to make our voices unmistakably heard in Washington and state capitols across the country. One step among others in this process is a letter we’ve drafted and for which we are now gathering signatures. Due to summer vacations, the Congressional recess, and my inability to devote energy to the project full-time, I found this effort slow going at first; but lately, it has gained momentum, and as of today, our campaign is at 20-plus names and counting.

So … if you’re either a moderate Republican or Independent voter who believes, like we believe, that the party should and can be saved, please take a moment this holiday weekend to read the letter and, if you’re so inclined, join the rest of us in signaling to GOP leaders that we are here and we demand to be counted.

  • Tom

    If you’re the party of small government, not sure if I’d choose Reagan as a good example to follow. For that matter, I’m not sure if Ike is that good an example; his “modern Republicanism” seemed awfully vague…

  • Becky

    Today I wrote a post about some comments Republican strategist Michelle Laxal made on the Larry Craig thing, urging the party to throw out the social conservatives who have hijacked the party.

    I applauded her remarks and was happy to see them. And that was the gist of my article today.

    But as I have mentioned before, that is not really possible. The Republican Party was never really founded on those principles. Their primary agenda has the the partnership of federalism with big money. They believe in limited government when it applies to regulating big business. Limited taxation that saves the average taxpayer $600 a year and is a windfall for Big Oil. And the assistance of federalism to facilitate those interests.

    Nothing has ever really changed. There have only brief periods of something approaching libertarianism, most notably the Goldwater Revolution in the mid-1960s.

    The current embrace of social conservatives, is just a convenient political colalition alliance. The primary constituency has never changed, and never will.


  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    I think the relationship between social conservatives and economic libertarians is more nuanced. There are huge numbers of people in this country who believe an unborn foetus has moral value equivalent to an infant child, and that government recognition of marraige should be defined democratically. These people deserve political representation.

    Socialists also tend to be pro-choice, and believe in judicial activism when it comes to marraige, so one could say the Democrats have been hijacked by social liberals if you want, since the same dichotomy exists on that side of the isle, albeit in reverse.

    My theory is that the left/right divide in this country reflects a more basic, almost psychological aspect of human nature. There are people who uphold liberty over equality; moral justice over social justice – these people are considered “conservatives,” the opposite are “liberals.” Liberty, individualism, and moralism are related at the core, as are equality, socialism, and material determinism. But thats a topic for another thread.

  • Pete Abel

    Becky — Thanks for the comment. I respect it, although (as you might suspect) I disagree. I am definitely a pro-market Republican, but I think the Party has often stood for much more than that, supporting the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, and yes even the middle-class … and it can once again. My contemporary role model in this regard: Gov. Schwarzenegger.

  • sleipner

    Haha…good one, Pete. The Republicans, the party of the downtrodden and disadvantaged? Maybe, if you’re talking about moving as many people as possible into that category and keeping them there…

    Schwarzenegger tried to be a true Washington corporate lobbyist-owned Republican but then he found his support eroding out from underneath him in progressive California. Only near the end of his first term when it looked like he might get the boot did he begin to try to compromise with progressive lawmakers, before that he was trying to be a west coast version of George Bush.

  • Pete Abel

    Sleipner – Lincoln, Danforth, Ramstad, etc. There are multiple Republican leaders who have worked and are working to help the “downtrodden and disadvantaged.” And for Schwarzenegger, whatever his motivation, he “got it” and adjusted. Can’t say the same for GWB.

  • Jim S


    You included Reagan in that list of Presidencies to be admired, though. And he was never about helping the downtrodden.

  • Jim S

    Jimmy, like most modern “conservatives”, refuses to recognize the difference between minorities having rights and majorities wanting to crush those rights.

  • Pete Abel

    Jim S – Reagan united the country when the country needed to be united. He contributed to the downfall of the USSR. I think he did enough.