Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Vital (Republican) Center

Charging RINO reports on centrist Republican hero, Christie Todd Whitman's comments about the GOP's hard right turn. As usual, Ms. Whitman tells it like it is. She says via The Denver Post that the current leadership tends to view anyone that isn't 100 percent in agreement with them as evil and labels them a "RINO" or "Republican in Name Only." Predictably, her comments have upset the far right. Here is what Gary Bauer head of the conservative group, American Values recently said:

"There's something strange about that 'center' Whitman seems to support," he wrote. "What exactly is she talking about? The 70 percent of Americans who want marriage to remain between one man and one woman, or the 28 percent who support homosexual 'marriage,' as she does? Is it the 75 percent of Americans who oppose partial-birth abortion, or the 25 percent who support it, as she does? ... It seems that the 'center' she is referring to is actually the base of the Democrat Party!"

Whatever, Gary. It's interesting that the extremists in both parties think that anyone who doesn't agree fully with them is somehow actually part of the other party. Moderate Republicans are called RINOs and moderate Democrats are branded as "Republican Lite." In response to people like Bauer, Jeremy over at Charging RINO has this to say:

My post from last night regarding the Santorum/Brownback wing of the GOP (and the excellent followup comments) was the first of what I fully expect will be a long series of discussions over what route the Republican Party will choose over the next couple of years. Will we continue allowing those with a "much more narrow definition" (to put it nicely) definition of Republicanism to run the show? Or will we opt for a new direction, perhaps epitomized by a revitalized centrist wing? I hope, of course, for the latter - and will do all in my power to make it so.

I plan to do my part as well. But the argument is not just moderates on one side and conservatives on the other. There are many thoughtful people who are more conservative than they are moderate who are also upset at the current hard right drift. One commenter to Jeremy's post writes:

The thing is, Charging, I'm not a RINO. I'm probably best described as an old-fashioned conservative, or maybe a neocon, or a libertarian, or some weird mix of all of those. Anyway, the point is, if the GOP nominates someone like Brownback, they're finished, as people like me will bolt. And there are lots of us.

The problem is, the current Republican Party came together 20 or 30 years ago with a few common goals, and now most of those goals have been accomplished. We got rid of Communism, we cut taxes, we saved capitalism, we ended the Nanny-State-Left's attempt to socialize and secularize our society, and we at least got people talking about privatizing government services.

In that sense, success has been our undoing. With our common goals accomplished, we Republicans have a lot less in common than we once did. The war on terror is a lot different than the struggle to end Communism, and we all disagree on how best to fight it. The coming Boomer retirements will bankrupt the social safety net, and we don't really know how to address it. The global economy demands a better education system, and instead GOP governors are cutting education. We're the richest country in the world and we can't even make sure everyone has health care or the highways are maintained. The debt keeps growing. And while we stopped the libs from imposing their values on us, we now have a fight in the party between those who want to impose conservative values on the nation and those who think government shouldn't impose any values on anyone.

The point of all that is, the GOP really has to step up to the plate if it wants to address the many problems before our nation today. I don't know if it will, and its saving grace is the fact that the Democrats are just sort of a token opposition these days. Eventually, there will be a better way. For now, let's just hope our party doesn't nominate Brownback.

There are a lot of problems facing our nation today and the GOP seems incapable of addressing them. Look at Gary Bauer's statement. There was no talk about health care, or the growing debt, or the war on terror or the impending crisis in social security and other entitlements. His statement was about gay marriage and partial birth abortion, and he acts as if these are the issues Americans lay awake at night thinking about.

This is ludicrious.

The GOP is starting to have a debate on where it's heading. Will we be a party that is obessed with gays or will we be a party that adheres to our first principles of pragmatism, prudence and equality?

Moderates and thoughtful conservatives must gird themselves for the battle at hand. The future of not only our party, but our nation is at stake. I plan to do my part, will you?


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