Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

John Tierney: Can the GOP be saved?

Expand Messages
  • AULibertarians@aol.com
    September 2, 2006 - The New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Can This Party Be Saved? By JOHN TIERNEY Republicans in Washington did not abandon their principles
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 3, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      September 2, 2006 - The New York Times
      Op-Ed Columnist
      Can This Party Be Saved?  By JOHN TIERNEY

      Republicans in Washington did not abandon their principles lightly. When
      they embraced "compassionate conservatism," when they started spending like
      Democrats, most of them didn't claim to suddenly love big government.

      No, they were just being practical. The party's strategists explained that
      the small-government mantra didn't cut it with voters anymore. Forget
      eliminating the Department of Education — double its budget and expand its
      power. Stop complaining about middle-class entitlements — create a new one
      for prescription drugs. Instead of obsessing about government waste, bring
      home the bacon.

      But as long as we're being practical, what do Republicans have to show for
      their largess? Passing the drug benefit and the No Child Left Behind Act
      gave them a slight boost in the polls on those issues, but not for long.
      When voters this year were asked in a New York Times/CBS News Poll which
      party they trusted to handle education and prescription drugs, the
      Republicans scored even worse than they did before those bills had been
      passed.

      Meanwhile, they've developed a new problem: holding the party together. As
      Ryan Sager argues in his new book, "The Elephant in the Room," the G.O.P. is
      sacrificing its future by breaking up the coalition that brought it to
      power.

      A half-century ago, during the Republicans' days in the wilderness, a
      National Review columnist named Frank Meyer championed a strategy that came
      to be known as fusionism. He appealed to traditionalist conservatives to
      work with libertarians. It wasn't an easy sell. The traditionalists wanted
      to rescue America from decadence, while the libertarians just wanted be left
      alone to pursue their own happiness — which often sounded to the
      traditionalists like decadence.

      Meyer acknowledged the fears that libertarianism could lead to "anarchy and
      nihilism," but he also saw the dangers of traditionalists' schemes for moral
      regeneration.

      "If the state is endowed with the power to enforce virtue," he wrote, "the
      men who hold that power will enforce their own concepts as virtuous." The
      path to both freedom and virtue was the fusionist compromise: smaller
      government.

      The coalition started with Barry Goldwater but persevered to elect Ronald
      Reagan and take over Congress. But then Republicans' faith in small
      government waned, partly because they discovered the perks of incumbency,
      and partly because they were outmaneuvered by Bill Clinton, who took their
      ideas (welfare reform, a balanced budget) and embarrassed them during the
      government shutdown of 1995.

      The shutdown didn't permanently traumatize the public. In poll after poll
      since then, respondents have preferred smaller government and fewer
      services. But the experience scared Republicans so much that they became
      big-government conservatives.

      Soccer moms were promised social programs; the religious right got moral
      rhetoric and cash for faith-based initiatives. Meyer's warnings about
      enforcing virtue were forgotten, along with the traditional Republican
      preference for states' rights. It became a federal responsibility to preach
      sexual abstinence to teenagers and stop states from legalizing euthanasia,
      medical marijuana and, worst of all, gay marriage.

      Big-government conservatism has helped bring some votes to the G.O.P.,
      particularly in the South. But as Sager writes: "It's not as if the
      Republican Party could do much better in the South at this point; it's not
      really the ideal region to which to pander."

      The practical panderer should look West — not to the Coast, which is
      reliably blue, but to the purple states in the interior. Sager notes that a
      swing of just 70,000 votes in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico would have
      cost Bush the last election, and that he lost ground in the Southwest
      between 2000 and 2004.

      The interior West is growing quickly, thanks to refugees from California
      seeking affordable housing. These Westerners have been voting Republican in
      presidential elections, but have also gone for Democratic governors. They
      tend to be economic conservatives and cultural liberals. They've legalized
      medical marijuana in Nevada, Colorado and Montana. They're more tolerant of
      homosexuality than Southerners are, and less likely to be religious.

      They're suspicious of moralists and of any command from Washington, whether
      it's a gun-control law or an educational mandate. In Colorado and Utah,
      they've exempted themselves from No Child Left Behind.

      They're small-government conservatives who would have felt at home in the
      old fusionist G.O.P. But now they're up for grabs, just like the party's
      principles.
       
      -- end --
       

      Sincerely,
      ... Aaron

      Director of Chapter Development,
      Republican Liberty Caucus USA
      www.RLC.org

      "Those who have been once intoxicated with power and have derived any
      kind of emolument from it can never willingly abandon it."--Edmund Burke
    • DGHarrison
      Can the GOP be saved? A better question is, should the GOP in its current permutation be saved? I was immediately alarmed by the president s choice of the term
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 3, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Can the GOP be saved? A better question is, should the GOP in its current permutation be saved? I was immediately alarmed by the president's choice of the term "compassionate conservatism." I knew then that he was pandering and that it could only mean more entitlement spending. It's like saying, "My! Look at the pretty skunk!" Calling it pretty isn't going to make it any less stinky. By adding the prescription drug benefits and not eliminating the Department of Education, the president and his advisors were perhaps hoping to give the Democrats programs they'd embrace in exchange for their support of the legislation needed to prosecute the "War on Terror," (regrettably, another poor choice of words). What folly! Democrats will never be bought by Republican pitch men. It is sad to say that the reverse is not also true. Should a party that doesn't play to win be saved?

        Doug Harrison
        Minnesota


         




        --- USFamily.Net - $8.25/mo! -- Highspeed - $19.99/mo! ---

      • Dave Nalle
        I always found compassionate conservatism more than a little creepy myself, but I expect a lot of hot air and silliness from my politicians. The question is
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 3, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          I always found 'compassionate conservatism' more than a little creepy
          myself, but I expect a lot of hot air and silliness from my
          politicians. The question is whether they're rotten to the core or
          just have a little surface mildew going on. And BTW - true story -
          skunks smell good to me, rather like a tasty garlicky salami.

          Dave

          >Can the GOP be saved? A better question is, should the GOP in its
          >current permutation be saved? I was immediately alarmed by the
          >president's choice of the term "compassionate conservatism." I knew
          >then that he was pandering and that it could only mean more
          >entitlement spending. It's like saying, "My! Look at the pretty
          >skunk!" Calling it pretty isn't going to make it any less stinky. By
          >adding the prescription drug benefits and not eliminating the
          >Department of Education, the president and his advisors were perhaps
          >hoping to give the Democrats programs they'd embrace in exchange for
          >their support of the legislation needed to prosecute the "War on
          >Terror," (regrettably, another poor choice of words). What folly!
          >Democrats will never be bought by Republican pitch men. It is sad to
          >say that the reverse is not also true. Should a party that doesn't
          >play to win be saved?


          --

          Tasty Thoughts from the Elitist Pig
          http://www.elitistpig.com
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.