Saturday, April 18, 2009

Do Republicans Have a Future?

Since the Obama victory in November, I have been thinking and reading and wondering about the future of the Republican party. I'm a conservative Republican, with the accent on conservative.

Modern conservatism (small government, low taxes, traditional values: a modified brand of libertarianism) has had its home in the Republican party since the days of Reagan. Since the 1980 election, if you agreed with Wm F Buckley, if you read National Review, you were almost certainly a Republican.

Throughout that time, conservatives have known who and what we were. We knew what we believed about a variety of issues, and why.

What happened? Several things, I think.
  1. Winner's complacency; Reagan's popularity (which carried over to GH Bush for most of his presidency) and the way the 1994 elections reversed Clinton's victory convinced us that history was headed in our direction. Can you believe that four years ago, Karl Rove was "laying the groundwork for a permanent Republican majority"? Gee, how did THAT turn out?
  2. We allowed our opponents and their friends in the media to define the way the public perceived us. If the media keeps referring to you as a bigot, sooner or later those who are in the middle are going to believe that characterization.
  3. We squabbled over turf instead of standing up for what was right. Never mind how effective he was: Newt Gingrich was unpopular with his comrades in congress because he's arrogant. When David Bonior attacked Newt for having a book advance--notice how no one has attacked the Clintons or the Obamas for making money off books?--Republicans sat on their hands. Other Republicans in congress wanted his power, or to take him down a notch, so they tacitly participated in the press savaging of Gingrich.
More later, I'm tired.


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