The GOP should seek a second opinion


Cross Posted at the Partisan Report

There have been several editorials and opinion pieces in recent days advising the Republicans on how to make their way out of the wilderness. A few more are saying the prognosis is worse and the party is slowly dying. The collective knee-jerk reaction for others is to call on the Republicans to move to the center and abandon the decisive issues. To stop playing so closely to the base (notably in the South) because by doing so is causing the loss in other regions.


Most recently, Johh Avlon (author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. in which I happen to own) wrote an article explaining in so many words that the GOP has become irrelevant because of their stubborn conservative ideology. Avlon often states the fact that Independents are the fastest growing bloc of voters and that 50 percent of voters are moderates. That claim in itself is very ambiguous when considering the information withheld when supporting that myth.

Moderate on what issues? All of them? Most find that hard to believe.

Most individuals who are independents are so because they don’t understand the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Most don’t know, don’t care, and are unwilling to take the time to learn about how our government works and how our institutions came about. Generally speaking most do not have many defining convictions and are impulse, or influenced voters (when they do vote) as opposed to informed voters.

Historically, the vast majority of them do not vote. This year’s election was no different which failed to meet the turn out of 2004, which is especially significant considering the media orgy and historical tone this election took on. Not even the excitement of Ross Perot’s candidacy could get these moderate/independents out to vote. In 1996, just 48% Americans went to the poll to cast their vote between Clinton, Dole and Perot.

Since we are talking about smart guys like Avlon, another Political Scientist, Robert Putnam, should be introduced. Regarding today’s climb in independents Putnam states, “The average college graduate today knows little more about public affairs than did the average high school graduate in the 1940s.”

And again, “Scandals and war can still rouse our attention, but generally speaking, fewer Americans follow public affairs now than did a quarter century ago. (Bowing Alone, 2000 pp. 35, 36).

Is there any amazement in the fact that the majority of voters didn’t know who the majority Party was in congress when they cast their vote?

The partisan mind did not change since 2004. It is a social identification. A form of membership reinforced by stereotypes and psychological images in conjures up about the other party. From this, a sense of attachment is formed to the group that they identify. In other words, Republicans are people who think of themselves as Republicans. It’s the same case for Democrats, too. Independents fall evenly between the two.

There is a reason why Republicans turned out in lesser numbers than they did in 2004. The Republicans in charge stopped being Republicans. McCain embodied that perception to many. It was certainly not because the GOP is too conservative.

There is no magical center, or center message that many refer to. At least not to the point to where it is safe to abandon the core principles of the base especially when 30% of all voters are conservative. That is about 10% more than liberals nation wide.

There is only the best message for that particular time. Barack Obama and the Democrats have not whisked the country to the left. Just as Ronald Reagan did not whisk the country to the right (Take Clinton, he successfully interrupted the Reagan Revolution as early as 1992 though he did leave it largely intact). Reagan and Obama just offered vast differences, used their unique power of personality, and articulated a clear vision much different from the one that had been heard.

Paradoxically, Obama enjoyed 96% of the black vote in the presidential election but over 70% of black voters voted against gay marriage in California. As was the same case in Florida and the affirmative action ban in Colorado (two states in which Obama won). Proof that Obama doesn’t have a clear agenda to take the country sharply to the left. Not even by his most passionate base. He simply offered something different during tumultuous times and called for a rejection of the failures of Republican governing, not conservative beliefs and values.

Clearly financial anxieties rose over the last two months of the election. It is widely known that financial worries and economic troubles have a profoundly depressing effect on society. When the Republican Party stopped being the party of reform and good stewardship and became the Party of Power, their bad fortunes rose, and their political stock dropped. They became the object of scorn and image of government incompetence. It’s the vicious cycle that effects all majority parties and incumbents.

The GOP wasn’t rejected because of what they believe. They were rejected because they stopped governing by those beliefs. When the Republicans get back on message and become the party of reform, good stewardship, limited government and spending, they will become the 800-pound gorilla again. A potent opposition party waiting for the reigns of power to be dropped, as is the constant in politics, and will assume power once more. It won’t have anything to do with how centrist they become but everything to do with how dedicated they stay to the fundamental beliefs and principles in which they were elected to govern.

Comments :

10 comments to “The GOP should seek a second opinion”
Critical Thinker said...
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Good post, Jay.

Blueskyboris said...
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The GOP lost because of economic, war, and corruption issues. The voters saw eight years of what GOP believes put into action.

Anonymous said...
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Good post. I think the Republican party has lost it's meaning in the last eight years. Since Reagan, the GOP has been the party of small government- and this often strikes a chord with Americans who see the government as interfeering in their lives with high taxes or extreme bearacracy. The last eight years has seen a President who has claimed the title of a Reagan Republican; but instead of decreasing the size of government, Bush and the Republicans have made it is bigger and less-efficent. Instead of slashing the federal budget, they have put us farther in debt.

After eight years of Republicans saying one thing and doing another, it only makes since that they were crushed in the election this year.

LoozianaJay said...
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Thanks,

My point exactly. We abandoned party ideology and its guiding principles. That's why we lost. It wasn't because we are the stuffy "conservative" party.

We ran McCain for goodness sake. Not your your typical bleeding red Republican. The whole theory is just very weak and always has been when it surfaces from time to time.

Blueskyboris said...
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Funny, the same thing happened with Bush Senior. Wait a second! Didn't Reagan do the same thing while lipping the same good lip?

Alien Patriot said...
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I don't think that Obama was for an amendment of the constitution in terms of gay marriage, but I might be wrong.

The problem with the GOP as with the Dems is that they are deeply involved in business favors, lobbying and all that stuff that makes it hard to live according to conservative principles.

Obama will not break through his own party's mafia network, so I also think that the GOP will need more than 4 years to return to ground zero in terms of its philosophy.

The two parties have pulled us into the mud and I think they will stay there until a next generation of political minds maybe don't want to get dirty.

I don't see that yet.

They way you get into politics is usually by favors and by creating some mud.

A politician once asked my Dad to become involved, but he said that the condition would be that my Dad tells him something personal (some dirt), he would never want the public to know. When my Dad said "No", that was the end of the story. This was in Europe, but I don't think the political game is that different there.

TAP

Angela said...
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When you're perceived as just like the other guy, it's hard to run against him. And after Bush's mega-spending, Constitution-shredding Presidency, the Republicans are just like the other guy, with but a few principled exceptions.

Even if we had a true conservative running this time around, it would have been tough. We would have needed someone to call out Bush for the error of his ways. There are only a few I see doing that.

Blueskyboris said...
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Regan ran up a huge deficit building the American military "staying vigilant' against the Soviets. Bush did the same thing, but fighting for control of Iraq. Why should anyone believe that a next generation Republican president would do different? Big government has always been a cornerstone of Republican governance, right back to the Federalist and Confederate armies..

Alien Patriot said...
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boris, I'm glad you weren't in charge of politics. When Reagan was President, I was in Europe and he was possibly the only one who was able to take the edge off the fear of a possible invasion from Russian side. You might not know that much about it, but I can tell you first hand.
And you probably don't think there was a reason for the invasion in Iraq either, there was no intelligence - it was all fake - all a big plot between Bush and Blair etc. All to do what? To get control over some piece of desert land? You gotta be kidding. If you would have received the intelligence at the time, you would have probably reacted the same way.
I know everybody is a smart ass now, and Bush is the one to blame, yeah it was the wrong choice, but I don't see how he would have been able to just ignore the intelligence. He knew that that was a big problem in regards to 9/11. And not just by Bush, Clinton also.
And if you say the Republicans are the big government party from the old days on, give some facts.

TAP

Blueskyboris said...
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"boris, I'm glad you weren't in charge of politics."

I'm not interested in politics! I'm just interested in arguing with you guys!

"When Reagan was President, I was in Europe and he was possibly the only one who was able to take the edge off the fear of a possible invasion from Russian side."

I think things were a bit more complicated than that, but I'm sure for your average conservative European Reagan was a reassuring presense with his big government military spending and star wars.

"You might not know that much about it, but I can tell you first hand."

You can only tell me first hand from your perspective. That's a fact.

"And you probably don't think there was a reason for the invasion in Iraq either,"

Oil.

"there was no intelligence - it was all fake - all a big plot between Bush and Blair etc."

No, I think there were documents. Obvious collusion is never even remotely believable without documents.

"All to do what? To get control over some piece of desert land? You gotta be kidding."

To get control of some of the biggest and deepest oil fields in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_fields

I don't know, maybe it is me!, but I count 83 billion barrels of oil in Iraq alone! Sounds like a pretty big prize to me!

"If you would have received the intelligence at the time, you would have probably reacted the same way."

Reacted? That's the problem with you guys. You react. You don't scrutinize or think. You react.

"I know everybody is a smart ass now,"

Why?

"and Bush is the one to blame, yeah it was the wrong choice, but I don't see how he would have been able to just ignore the intelligence."

Well, considering that it was the Bush administration that purged most of the democratic operatives from the major bureaucracies I'm not surprised that he couldn't ignore his intelligence. In one anti-American swoop he eliminated the check and balance of Americanism known as disseenting opinion. The agents were probably too stupid or too ideologically narrow to critique their own findings or simply wanted to make it true, even though it wasn't. For political purposes.

"And if you say the Republicans are the big government party from the old days on, give some facts."

You equate big government with social spending, but the Republican party is also for big government. Always has been. Their numerous wars and land aquisitions have slowly increased the size of the military, led to the need for the Federal Reserve, and now the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Why? Because the American military/government is fucking around in Israel, the Middle East, and numerous other countries. This sort of imperialism leads to big government.