Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Delusional Republican Talking Point

Abe Greenwald at Commentary argues that little could have been done to defeat Obama. He was simply too charismatic a politician to overcome and so deep soul searching isn’t required by Republicans. He writes:
“The GOP shouldn’t get too distracted with questions about how they need to rebuild or reinvent. They just came up against a truly extraordinary politician.”
This is truly a sad and delusional argument, and if it is the direction the Republican Party takes in the next few years, they can expect to lose future elections. Ramesh Ponnuru rightly argues:
“Democrats deluded themselves in the 1980s that Ronald Reagan's success owed to some spell he had put on the electorate, and some Republicans thought the same thing about Bill Clinton. Political talent matters, but it is not everything.”
Democrats also deluded themselves into thinking they lost to Bush in 2000 and 2004 due to dirty tricks and Rove styled attacks. They were wrong, and that continued unwillingness to confront the very real problems with the Democratic Party will have lasting effects on the organization.

Perhaps that sounds silly coming the day after a landslide victory for the Democratic Party. They have every right to take their victory lap and celebrate a campaign well done, but being gifted with complete control of government isn’t going to deliver the rosy future Democratic activists envision. The Democrats may have their day in the shade, but the splits in their party will also become apparent as the varying wings of the party look to capitalize on their newfound power. Talk of the Republican civil war will likely be the main story in the coming months, but the divisions in the Democratic Party are as serious and destructive as those in the GOP. Now that the Dems have everything they could possibly want, we will start to see how little there for the party’s base to agree upon.

David Frum makes the point I have been making for the last year: that the Republicans need to put the social conservatives in their place if they expect to return to power. He writes:
“So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue [college educated Americans]? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.”


TNC said...

The Republicans are in a difficult position (of their own making). I know I sound like a broken record at this point but a large portion of the party's base is socially conservative. They are a far larger group than the fiscal conservatives, defense hawks or libertarians. The only other group that comes close to them are the nativists.

This is particularly the situation in the south. The party cannot afford to lose these people even if by losing them they will gain a few northern voters.

I say the situation is of the party's own baking because first they drove the Rockefeller Republicans out, then Newt and others went after the centrists in the party.

Unfortunately I do not see the party moving in the direction Frum is advocating. Social conservatives will continue to dominate Republican discourse and policy. They can't help but notice anti-gay marriage proposals passed in every state they were on the ballot.

The main group that I see gaining more influence are the nativists. There are a lot of Republican voters who view illegal immigration as one of the most important issues facing the U.S. These voters want to see Republican candidates taking more outspoken positions against illegal immigration. McCain was not their man.

It's not a mixture that appeals to me but I think we can expect to see more socially conservative and "close the border" types running for office and winning elections.

tnc said...


"I say the situation is of the party's own baking..."


I say the situation is of the party's own making...