GOP’s in worse trouble than you thought

There is a tiresome sameness to the reaction of Republicans to this year’s elections. And this piece by Katon Dawson on Politico is an excellent example of what I’m talking about, replete with the same cliches about "courage of convictions" and "walking the walk" that brought the GOP to this pass.

The irony is that after admitting what should be obvious, that the GOP is "in need of new ideas, new
messengers and a new focus in order to move forward as a party," Katon falls back on this stuff:

    What really cost Republicans at the ballot box during the past two
election cycles was forgetting a lesson many of us learned from our
parents — say what you mean and mean what you say.
    … Our elected
officials, candidates and party leaders dutifully repeated the
principles of our party, but once in office, too many abandoned those
principles. Whether it was abandoning our commitment to fiscal
responsibility, turning a blind eye to serious character flaws in some
of our candidates, or providing a handout to big business at the
expense of the American taxpayers, we seemed to lose the courage of our

Of  course, the context of this piece is Katon’s campaign to be national party chairman, as he states openly. He argues against claims that "Republicans were too conservative, that we’ve become a regional party and that
we’re clinging to an old playbook." He says that speaking from the conservative wing of the party, from its regional heart of South Carolina, and gripping the old playbook tightly to his chest. For instance, he says Republicans must:

Renew our commitment to our Party’s timeless principles…by reconfirming
our commitment to be the party of smaller government, lower taxes, individual
freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life, traditional
marriage, the importance of family and the exceptionalism of America.

THOSE are the GOP’s "timeless principles?" I bet that would surprise ol’ Abe Lincoln. He’d agree with the exceptionalism thing, and he’d be on board with a strong defense, but that’s about it. He sure wasn’t a small-gummint guy.

23 thoughts on “GOP’s in worse trouble than you thought

  1. Karen McLeod

    I don’t understand how a party which stands for “individual freedom” has any business telling a woman that she must bring a fetus to term, or telling a homosexual that that person cannot have the same domestic rights and privileges as everyone else. And if they want a smaller government, why do they tend to expand the military (I know Rumsfeld did not–he just engaged us in a war without giving our guys the resources to fight it)? Oh, you say breaking the army gives us stronger national security? And America was exceptional, before it started torturing people, spying on its own countrymen, and basically saying to all other countries, “If we don’t trust you, we may start a war with you.” No, I don’t put down the Republican party in general, but I think they need to rethink their positions, and come up with some that don’t contain internal contradictions.

  2. Rich

    For me, the issues are social and cultural, as well as economic. Since the economic meltdown began, values issues have taken a back seat and are hardly mentioned at all in the popular press–so caught up are we all in keeping the country from sliding into a second Great Depression. It’s understandable.
    But issues involving religion, culture, and values in general are always there waiting for the debate to resume. Do we continue to support Roe v. Wade? should we extend full civil rights to gays? should we engage in stem-cell research? should we teach evolution only in the public school science classrooms? should government in general assume an extensive role in assuring the social and economic welfare of our citizens? do we include those who have crossed illegally into this country to do menial labor the rest of us don’t want to do?
    These issues are not going to go away and by playing to the Republican conservative, religious core of voters who would never have voted for Obama because they don’t think Jesus wanted them to, McCain assured his defeat by alienating the soft center of American politics that has always determined our elections.
    I do believe that the combination of Republican economic fecklessness while they were in office (led by one George Bush) combined with an increasingly hard-line theocratic approach on social and cultural issues led to a massive defection of potential Republican voters in the center to the Democrats simply because the combination of economic failure and values-based intolerance was more than they could stomach.
    This is why I see the Republican Party becoming an increasingly regional party representing essentially a gun-toting, rural, low-information, fundamentalist constituency which, election after election, will show itself to be more and more out of the political mainstream of this country, In an earlier post, I had suggested that the Republicans could revitalize themselves by becoming once again the party of Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower–a party that had its roots in the preservation of the Union on the basis of the three Reconstruction Amendments combined with economic probity, fiscal conservatism, and social libertarianism. In short, the Republicans could recapture the best in their heritage and become poised, once again, to take power in the future when the public tires of the Democrats (which, I don’t think, will be for quite awhile).
    We need a big-tent Republican Party that is not based on cultural intolerance, religious obscurantism, or Biblical eschatology. Lest you think I exaggerate, you need to pay attention to what the right’s protestant divines have been preaching lately concerning Israel, the projected building of the Third Temple (which they would like to see happen), and what the United States can do “to hasten the Lord’s coming.” Religious fundamentalism is not simply in alliance with the Republicans, it has moved to its core. Prophecy is taken seriously by these people.
    As long as the Republicans continue to push spending without taxation (especially on the military) and as long as they continue to scare the political center of this country with their Iran-style theocratic tendencies (I, for one, do not want to live in a Christian republic any more than I would want to live in an Islamic one!), they will remain the party of a string of rural, conservative states stretching from the deep South up to Idaho and Alaska.
    Bush has had a cavalier attitude toward his political opposition and a cowboy attitude to the world. American insularity, obliviousness to the wider world, and crass me-first materialism has been widely and thoroughly loathed in the world since our needless invasion of Iraq in 2003.
    Just think if the Supreme Court had not stolen the election for George Bush and if we had elected Al Gore as president! What would our situation be now? Of course, counter-factual history can never be proven; it runs completely counter to the historical method of inquiry which is solidly empirical in nature. But it makes for a great parlor game and it lurks in the back of Americans’ minds when they go to vote.
    Bush-hatred is, therefore, not unreasonable given the trajectory of this country for the last two presidential terms and the parlous condition economically, politically, and militarily in which we find our nearly bankrupt and over-extended empire. Unfortunately, the religious conservatives of this country will continue to vote against their own economic and political interests in order to advance their socio-cultural, religious agenda.
    That, unfortunately, will doom the Republicans to marginality for the next two or more generations unless they can recapture their roots as the party of Lincoln, limited government, and fiscal conservatism.
    Then we would once again have a viable two-party system. But, hey, I am a Democrat. It will please me greatly to see the Democracy in power for a generation or more, implementing more and more its left-leaning platform. If the Republicans want to marginalize themselves and put up Sarah Palin as the smiling, pretty, and pretty ignorant face of the party, so be it!!

  3. Brad Warthen

    Karen, you and I disagree on the first two points you made — abortion and (I think this is your second point) same-sex marriage. For instance, I would point out that the abortion issue isn’t about telling the pregnant woman anything; it’s about preventing abortionists from plying their trade.

    But we could go on about that for the next 30 years. The fact is, you are correct that an authoritarian position on abortion is at odds with the GOP’s economic libertarianism.

    And here’s the bigger point: There’s room for you in the UnParty. As I wrote in the original manifesto (can it really have been three years ago?), the UnParty’s very first, fundamental, nonnegotiable tenet is:

    unwavering opposition to fundamental, nonnegotiable tenets. Within our
    party would be many ideas, and in each situation we would sift through
    them to find the smartest possible approach to the challenge at hand. Another day, a completely different approach might be best.

    An UnParty candidate for president, for instance, would not define himself to the voters in terms of stacking the federal bench either way with regard to Roe. (And that, unfortunately, is one measure by which both Obama and McCain fell short, although as I noted in a previous column, McCain came a little closer to the UnParty attitude than Obama — which actually surprised me, Obama being such an UnParty type in other ways.)

    Sadly, there is not room in the UnParty for Katon, since he clings to the orthodoxies of one of the two main parties. In other words, he believes fervently in what the UnParty was conceived to oppose.

  4. martin

    The abortionists, carving up women and leaving them to bleed to death, were put out of business in 1973.
    The purpose of Roe V. Wade was to stop killing women and allow them to have a safe medical procedure if the situations of their lives led them to believe they had no alternative/choice.
    Women will have abortions whether they are legal or illegal, it’s always been about them being able to do safely. Apparently, this is a real difficult concept for some.

  5. jmcdoogle

    “For instance, I would point out that the abortion issue isn’t about telling the pregnant woman anything; it’s about preventing abortionists from plying their trade.” -BW
    Come on, Brad, that’s like saying to a black man, “You’re free to buy all the land you want, we’re just going to make it illegal for anyone to sell it to you.”

  6. Karen McLeod

    Thankyou, martin and jmcdoogle. You are precisely correct. Having said that, I agree with you Brad, although I think your interpretation of what Sen. Obama said is different from what I heard re: abortion–but we’ve been there/done that. Yes, we need to search for what we can achieve together, because we certainly achieve less separately. And not one of us has a lock on ‘the truth’. But please, can we not keep it civil discourse? We can’t ignore our differences, but are similarities are much more common. Let’s proceed forward where we can, and continue to discuss what we disagree on in terms that don’t denigrate the other side.

  7. Lee Muller

    martin is simply ignorant of the fact that abortion was left to the states prior to Roe v Wade, and was legal in 38 states then. If a woman did not meet the legal criteria to abort the child she was carrying in one state, she simply traveled to the state where that medical procedure was legal.
    John McCain lost because he was not a credible alternative to Obama for many voters. His record was one of appeasement of socialistic Democrats, and of even working with them on issues like phony campaign reform, and amnesty for illegal aliens. 4,100,000 Republicans stayed home, and he lost.
    They will be sorry when they realize what a Marxist Obama is.
    If President Bush had fought every spending bill of the Democrats that was useless or crooked, like their junk mortgage loans, and really tried to not run deficits, the GOP would be more enthusiastic. He also made the mistake of having Cheney for a VP, instead of grooming a successor. Obama is doing the same thing with Biden.

  8. Rich

    In the absence of religious strictures to the contrary, a woman’s right to choose would not be an issue. I keep coming back to Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the high court rightly decided that any government enactment must have a secular purpose, not entangle the government with religion, and neither promote nor denigrate religious belief. All three tests must be met for any enactment to be constitutional.
    This is probably the most lucid statement of constitutional law ever made by the Burger court. We would do well do heed its requirements.

  9. p.m.

    I think it’s amusing that Brad, who’s not a Republican, posts about the Republican Party’s platform troubles, and all the responses but Lee’s come from dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.
    It’s like a gang of yard dogs posing as experts on house cats.
    So let me tell Rich for the thousandth time that the Supreme Court did not steal anything from Al Gore, the political putz who couldn’t even carry his home state, and remind Rich that he knows no more about religion and Republicans than yard dogs know about house cats.
    Honestly, sir, for someone who claims to know so much, your writing evidences remarkably little understanding of human nature whatsoever and a remarkable misunderstanding of what’s going on around you.
    And as to a generation of Democrat control, HAH! The press will turn on Obama within a year, when it dawns on them two years two late that he’s just an intellectual phony with visions of his own personal grandeur.
    The Office of the President-Elect, indeed. What pretentious pap.

  10. Charlie

    Most of what Dawson calls for can be found among the Ron Paul crowd. The GOP lost on two issues-the war and the economy. Bush was an idiot, and McCain was more of the same. When you have racists willing to vote for a black man, you are a bad president. Bush was a bad president.
    My big fear for the future of the GOP is Mike Huckabee. That f*ckhead represents big government religious conservatism which is what this country does not need.

  11. Dino

    Those of you who support federally sponsored abortion must also own its impending consequence. P-E Obama intends to federalize healthcare precisely at the time baby-boomers have begun exiting the U.S. workforce.
    Within 10 years, or less, the national health insurance regime will need to withhold more expensive life-saving and quality enhancing therapies from non-workers (people no longer paying into Social Security).
    To make the shock of healthcare rationing appear equitable, however, older workers will be offered an option of delaying their social benefits from age 65 to age 75, perhaps in 2-year increments (not available to younger workers, who must delay retirement until 75).
    Workers not collecting Social Security would be exempt from most healthcare rationing until they elect to drop out of the workforce.
    Does anyone believe such rationing does not exist in countries with model healthcare? Guess again. You may want to investigate Sweden’s approach to withholding such therapies.
    A former Swedish couple I know now reside in the U.S. It seems therapy was withheld from a parent, who languuished bedridden 8 years until his death.
    Abortion proponents rejoice while you can! What goes around is coming for you.

  12. bud

    An UnParty candidate for president, for instance, would not define himself to the voters in terms of stacking the federal bench either way with regard to Roe.
    Why would anyone want to associate with such a mushy position? A true pragmatist, which is what the UnParty professes to be, would take a firm position on an important issue like abortion and work to make it happen. Brad would be better off creating a party that pushes for government intervention into all issues. That’s the intellectually honest philosophy of Brad, why not acknowledge it openly? It remains one of life’s little mysteries.

  13. H

    Face it. USA is changing, even if SC isn’t. A Religious-based party is not in the best interest of the country or appealling to the mainstream voter. The GOP is dead unless they, and SC Republicans, change too.

  14. p.m.

    The GOP is not now, nor has it ever been, “a religious-based party.”
    It has been a party where common sense trumped the Democrats’ feckless ideology.
    It is now a party in recession because the Democrats have fooled the America they indoctrinated rather than educated into believing that fantasy can replace reality.

  15. Lee Muller

    CPAs report that droves of black employees are asking to stop their deductions for medical insurance in 2009, because Obama is going to provide free health care and pay their mortgages.
    That is the sort of stupidity which elected Obama.

  16. Rich

    Lee Muller continues to embarrass this blog with his bigotry. What about all of the ignorant whites who voted for McCain because they thought Obama was a non-native muslim terrorist?
    As for Brad’s “Unparty” concept, it simply won’t work, nor should it. Parties are supposed to have ideological and political positions based on tradition, reason, theory, and preference. The genius of American democracy, however, has been our ability to compromise, to reach across the aisle, to bring everyone together in the huddle during a time of crisis–much as Obama is doing now. We stand on principle, but we compromise because democratic politics demands it.
    As I am sure many of you are aware if you have even glanced at my posts for the last few months, I am a man of the hard left. But I do not advocate the wholesale adoption, uncritically, of every plank in the Democratic Party platform. On the contrary, everything must be debated and deliberated upon. If a given proposal does not meet ultimately with the approval of the minority party (the Republicans), so be it.
    At least everything will have been discussed and all of the representatives of the People will have been brought into the process.
    Winning an election is not about crushing the opposition and imposing a novus ordo seclorum; it’s about leading, and bringing as many people along as possible and accommodating their interests as much as possible so that they can at least feel included and motivated to obey laws once passed.
    That’s only good politics, and that’s what Barack will be all about.
    And I support him.

  17. Lee Muller

    People like Anonymous Rich think that everyone who voted against Obama is ignorant.
    I offer concrete examples of the greed and stupidity which motivated many Obama voters.
    Here’s more:
    A poll after the election of Obama voters found that 62% of them could not state a single item of his platform which they supported. They voted for him because of his skin color and they thought he was a nice guy.
    91% of voters are covered by some sort of health insurance. So why would any of them want socialized medicine? Simple: they are lazy bums who think they will get treatment from free while others pay for it. That is impossible. Everyone will receive inferior care, except the rulers in Washington.

  18. p.m.

    First Rich spoke of a mandate for “the Democracy,” but now he says “winning an election is not about crushing the opposition and imposing a novus ordo seclorum.”
    It seems to me our new master has already begun imposing his new order. He’s taken to talking down to us. When the press finally realizes what a sham he is after putting together his reappointment of the old order and his new condescending tone, the fireworks should be something to see.
    Actually, even if the press doesn’t catch on to him, the fireworks should still be quite a sight. America won’t accept being forced into the Third World lying down.

  19. Lee Muller

    Real Americans aren’t buying 380,000 extra firearms a week since the election just to hand them over to Obama’s Domestic Defense Corps.

  20. WWB

    Muller, first, I understand from reliable sources that your “real americans” only bought an average of 257,413 firearms over the past three weeks. Figures are not available to indicate if these weapons are first time purchases or if they were extra weapons of individual destruction.
    Secondly and more importantly, are you even remotely intimating that your “real americans” are buying weapons in order to overthrow or resist a popularly elected government? I’m sure you are not, are you?

  21. Lee Muller

    Most of the firearms sales (380,000 the week of the election – FBI) were in suburbs of major cities, where Obama supporters had threatened riots if he lost the election. People have seen such riots of Obama-type welfare eaters before in Los Angeles, New York, and Detroit. They know the police cannot protect them.
    Real Americans realize they have a duty to be armed as part of the militia, to protect themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their country from “enemies foreign and domestic”. Read Thomas Jefferson’s opinions on the importance of an armed population as a deterrent to despotism and invasion.
    Those who seek to misuse the military or police first seek to disarm the population.
    Barack Obama has already said he intends to create a Domestic Defense Corps “as large and well-equipped” as our military. For what purpose? Answerable to whom?
    Hitler and Mussolini were elected by much larger majorities than the slim victory of Barack Obama. Both of them used goon squads and new national police to suppress political dissent. Armed Italians overthrew Mussolini and killed him in the street. Armed Germans tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and they were within their rights to do so.

  22. Lee Muller

    Back on topic, Obama’s spending spree ideas now totals $4 TRILLION, on top of the $1.2 TRILLION deficit run up by Democrats to cover their mortgage loan scandal.
    It didn’t work for FDR, and it won’t work for Obama. Just as FDR’s socialism prolonged the Depression, these economic bailouts and stimulus packages will plunge the US into a long recession.
    The only things that will work are what Democrats and other socialists cannot abide: deep tax cuts and removal of senseless regulations, so American business can plan for long term investment.
    Instead, Democrats are proposing confiscation of 401-k accounts, IRAs, Keogh and SEP plans to finance their massive transfers of wealth from working people to failed banks, failed corporations, and failed state governments.

  23. Lee Muller

    The helplessness of the unarmed Indians and their unarmed police in Mumbai should serve as a stark reminder to those who scoff at the armed citizens of America.


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