Sunday, February 17, 2008

Republicans, Dinosaurs and Tent Sizes

I didn't particularly want to vote for George Bush in 2004. But he was the candidate for the party, and I voted for him. The alternative was unacceptable.

We are now facing a similar situation with John McCain. I will vote for him also, despite some misgivings about some things, because the alternative is still unacceptable. Yet I keep hearing conservative "purists" focusing only on what they don't like about him, completely ignoring his conservative voting record or any of the clearly good and conservative things he has done and promises to do, and generally having a hissy fit.

The Republican party is floundering. The people who are lining up to support McCain aren't doing it "just to gain money and attention"; that's patronizing. Could it actually be that they want the Republican party to WIN in November? Could it actually be that even if McCain doesn't represent their own beliefs 100 percent, they still understand that politics is about compromise? Could it be that they understand that if the Democrats get in, the damage they can do may be irreversible? That they will appoint many Supreme Court Justices? That NOTHING will be done to secure our border?

With a Democrat President and Congress, a massive amnesty will be granted to millions of illegals, solely on the Democrats terms. Illegal aliens may even eventually be allowed to vote in our elections... and it may be a long, long time before a Republican President or Congress is ever elected again. And if and when it does happen, the party could be completely unrecognizable from what it is now.

If the conservative purists continue to harangue and malign the Republican party because of McCain, he will at some point be compelled to take them at their word that they will never vote for him, and he will be forced to seek and rely on support from elsewhere; from further left in the party, from the Huckabee supporters, from independents and conservative Democrats. If he succeeds and wins, the purists may find themselves marginalized in the party, without a voice. Perhaps permanently.

If the purists succeed in sandbagging their own party and we lose in November, the Republican party becomes marginalized. Perhaps permanently.

I hear the anti-McCainites saying "Forget the top of the ticket, just work to get conservatives elected in Congress". That sounds good in theory, but is it realistic? According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Feb. 8-10, 2008, only 41% of adults likely to vote this November say they would support the Republican candidate running in their congressional district. 55% say they would vote for the Democratic candidate.

Combine that with the fact the many Republican seats are becoming available as current members retire, and there aren't enough Republican candidates running to fill them all. Of course we must try to retake Congress, but realistically, the math is not on our side. You'd better believe the Democrats are doing the math. Shouldn't we? What do you think will happen if the Republican party is marginalized?

When I was a waiter in San Francisco, I used to overhear conversations of Democrats who had just come back from vacations to Cuba or Vietnam or some other commie worker's paradise. They would lament to their friends over dinner that America's biggest problem was it's two party system; in their "educated" opinion, only ONE party was needed. "If only the Republican's could be done away with, and sent to re-education camps like they have in Cuba".

They would all have a good laugh about that. But then more seriously, they would say that the next best thing to that would be to have the Republican party become marginalized and ineffective. And they believed the best way to do that was to hope for and encourage the most inflexible and ideological people in the Republican party, the purists, to take control of it. The benefits of that scenario would be twofold, because it would:

1.) Drive away moderates and independents, keeping it a small tent and thus making the party smaller.

2.) By letting the extreme right dominate the party, it gives the Democrats something to rail against, something to use to whip up THEIR base and get them out to vote.

They believed that with the Hard Right firmly in charge, the Republican party would continue to shrink in power and influence, until it could eventually be abolished as "unnecessary". Extinct, like the dinosaurs. The key was to just make sure the Republicans did not enjoy popular support. No big tents. No reaching out. Just inflexibility and intolerance in the name of ideological purity.

It looks to me like we are seeing the Democrats dream-come-true. The Republican party fractured and splintering. Purists calling everyone who disagrees with them RINOs. Huckubee supporters taking perhaps as much as 1/4 of the Republican vote, while the party's lead candidate, who has a realistic chance of winning in November, is not only not receiving sufficient support, but is actually being attacked by a significant portion of his own party. All to the great joy of Democrats.

Ideological purity and inflexibility is a losing strategy. We NEED a bigger tent. We can all agree to disagree about some things. We can respect our differences without kicking each other. We can form a coalition of the willing. Lets do it. Let's make a difference while we still can. We need to adapt to reality... or die. You can argue with reality, but you can't win against it. The choice isn't a hard one for me to make.

Related Links:

GOP Yet to Rally Around McCain

Politics and war - getting things in proportion

Democratic Party's Image More Positive Than GOP’s

GOP Identification in 2007 Lowest in Last Two Decades

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