David Frum has probably written his best article about the current state of the GOP like, ever. There have been a thousand articles written about what’s wrong with the GOP with a number written by Republicans. After a while, they start to blur and get uninteresting.
What’s the different about Frum’s is that he writes it in someway as a love letter, or a lost love. He’s pleading for his love to mend her ways and come back to him, but not before saying how she has hurt him.
I think what makes this article engaging is found in it’s final paragraphs. Frum urges moderates in the party who have become silent over the years to start to speak up and work for change:
I refuse to believe that I am the only Republican who feels this way. If CNN’s most recent polling is correct, only half of us sympathize with the tea party. However, moderate-minded people dislike conflict—and thus tend to lose to people who relish conflict. The most extreme voices in the GOP now denounce everybody else as Republicans in Name Only. But who elected them as the GOP’s membership committee? What have they done to deserve such an inheritance? In the mid-sixties, when the party split spectacularly between Ripon Republicans, who embraced the civil-rights movement, and Goldwater Republicans, who opposed it, civil-rights Republicans like Michigan governor George Romney spoke forcefully for their point of view. Today, Republicans discomfited by political and media extremism bite their tongues. But if they don’t speak up, they’ll be whipsawed into a choice between an Obama administration that wants to build a permanently bigger government and a conservative movement content with permanently outraged opposition.
The problem here is that moderates have either given up the fight or have allowed themselves to think that if the GOP loses an election or two, they will moderate out of sheer will. I have been one of those people. But what if things are different this time? What if losing an election makes the far right more powerful and not less? David Brooks wonders as much.
Unlike Brooks, I don’t think a third force (or third party) is going to come in a change things. I think most of the third party/independent/centrist movement is based more on some kind of romanticism than it is on creating something to answer the times we are living in.
Which means that at the end of the day we are left with the two imperfect parties we began with. I think that if we want something better than the GOP we have, it will be up to those who think the GOP is worth fighting for to get active.