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!


Mrs. Elliott said...

Hi Jess! These are some of the very questions I've been pondering myself lately, and since today is a "snow day," I actually can discuss them.

Questions 1: yes, I have personally experienced major dislike towards some presidential candidates. I think most republicans have especially because of what you outline in the second question.

Question 2: I think people join the republican party for these different reasons. Unfortunately these reasons which used to be more unifying have become highly divisive. It seems like it didn't use to be an either/or question in the past. If Republicans are doomed it is because of a gradual shift in thinking away from conservative values such as small government, free markets, right to life values etc. Candidates that tout these things also don't have the record to support it in many cases, which is proving problematic.

Question 3: Many Republicans certainly do not like Hilary and will unite behind whoever wins the primaries in order to keep her out of the White House (assuming she wins the primaries for the Dems.) However, I personally cannot vote against my conscience and support someone who I believe is not a true conservative and who does not represent my values.

Thanks for posing such great questions, I look forward to hearing from others about this topic.

Elizabeth said...

1) Yes. One of the candidates has strong ties to White Supremicists, and even thinking his name makes my blood boil so hot I can't even see straight.

2) I don't think its unfixable. But it needs to get out of a lock step mentality. The GOP has developed a real "with us or against us" true believer quality over the last 10-15 years. This past administration has, sadly, really, really exacerbated that. IF the GOP leadership (and its pundits) can let that go, I think an amazing amount of good can come of it.

3) Heck yeah!

flyingmom said...


I actually talked about your Ques. #3 a bit over on RGT a few weeks ago.

I absolutely will NOT vote for Romney. Give me a choice between Romney and Clinton, who I dislike a great deal as well, and I'd probably vote for Clinton. Romney and Obama- I'd vote for Obama, easily.

I'm a die hard Republican and evangelical. I agree that Romney's "change" on abortion views seems politically motivated. If he gets the Republican ticket, I believe the Republican party will lose the election. You'd essentially be putting up two pro-choice candidates, one Republican and one Democrat. Given that choice, I'd go with either Clinton or Obama- in part simply because I want to see a woman or an African-American as President. I believe that the power of precedent is very strong- it only takes one woman or one AA to break through and open up the door for all those to follow.

Laurie said...

1.) Yes- there have been candidates that I've disliked pretty strongly

2.) Nope. I don't think it's a lost cause, although I do think it's a tough road.

3.) There is no way I'd vote for either Hilary or Obama. If the repub party nominates my least favorite -McCain, I'd grit my teeth and vote for him.

That being said, I guess I don't understand why people would vote for either Hilary or Obama under any circumstances if abortion is their #1 issue. Even if Romney's conversion is politically motivated, at the worst it seems he'd leave the situation as is, whereas I think Hilary and Obama fight to increase access and tax payer funding of abortions and stem cell research. Isn't that worse than gritting your teeth and voting for someone who probably won't do much to stop it but also won't encourage it?

*~Tamara~* said...

You ask some very good questions.

1. Yes, I strongly dislike a couple of candidates. Contempt would be the better word. Hillary is one of them.

2. I don't think the party is doomed to lose, though it might. But I do think it is very, very fractured. I, being very conservative (across the board, not just social, not just fiscal) have been [flashing neon lights] EXTREMELY [/flashing neon lights] betrayed by my party since I've been of voting age. It's disgusting. It's ridiculous to have "conservative" candidates on stage tauting liberal approaches to government and getting away with it. The fact that they have any standing in the party shows exactly how far the party has fallen.

3. Hillary hatred is only strong among conservatives, and many of them don't even know why they hate her, they've just got a certain distaste for her. Since democrats are very motivated this election (as seen in their high turn out rates at the primaries), it is quite possible for Hillary to win. Republicans (the actually conservative ones) are vastly apathetic right now, because like me they have been betrayed. You can consider me "the horse's mouth" on this point, because we've met them, we've talked to them, and we know exactly what they mean when they say they've lost all motivation to be a part of the process. Now, if you can get them to care just enough to listen, and you show them a candidate who is truly conservative from head to toe, and has a consistent record and reputation, they become immediately interested and even excited. The trouble is getting them to even listen anymore. They have lost interest after having been betrayed for the past twenty years.

Since Hillary-hatred is not at all strongly present in the democratic party in general, and democrats are more motivated this election than they have been in a long while (due mainly to Bush-hatred, it seems), I would say the chances of the Republican party being able to overlook the wounds enough to defeat her are questionable. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but it's not going to be easy. And the guy who wins may have to deal with the fact that many people voted for him, not because he was worthy, but because they hated the other choice.

As for me, no. I will not vote for anyone but one person. I won't. Everyone else compromises my Christian values, most importantly, and my Republican values secondarily. I would not be able to sleep at night when someone else continues to rob us, take us to war, ruin our economy and our country's good name, knowing my vote helped put him there. Yes, I feel that strongly. I will vote no matter who is on the ballot, but I have only one choice.

Kim said...

On Question 3 - I always thought that if it was Guiliani v. Clinton, I just honestly wouldn't vote. It's obviously not going to be that way. But I have people picked in either party, so I am really comfortable with voting for a certain Democrat or a certain Republican.

(And just FYI (or anyone's I, I guess... :) ) it's not that I don't "like" Giuliani (sp?) per se. It's just that I think his policies as mayor were no good. I think the only reason people adore him is because he did handle 9/11 well in the public eye, and I just think he'd be an awful president.)

Amanda said...

I wouldn't vote for Obama at all because of all of the candidates, he is the most liberal when it comes to abortion, even if I didn't like the GOP nominee. :)