Tag Archives: Moderate Republicans

The Long, Slow March

The news this week of President Obama finally “coming out of the closet” on same sex marriage seemed to frame the issue in very stark, partisan terms: Democrats good, Republicans bad.  It didn’t help that GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney fired back with his opposition to gay marriage.

The GOP is not where the Dems are on this issue.  You can’t try to dress up that pig.  But it’s also important to remember that there is a slow, but building movement of folks in the GOP who support gay marriage.  And it’s also important to remember that one GOP Senator was instrumental in allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

Change can come slowly, but change does happen.  It may seem pointless at times, but I think one day in the very near future, there will be a GOP candidate for president who will voice support for same sex marriage and no one will bat an eye.

Is that a silly thing to believe?  Stranger things have happened- like a President actually coming out in favor of same sex marriage.

Scott Brown vs. Tea Party

Scott Brown was elected to the Senate last year as a darling of the Tea Party.  Since then, they haven’t been that pleased with him because he turned out to be far moderate than they expected ( a moderate Republican from Massachusetts?  Who would have thought?)

He’s certainly not going to get love from the Tea Party for his latest act: blasting the GOP leadership and by extension, the Tea Party for “irresponsible cuts” that will hurt the poor.  Here’s some of what he said in a letter and also on the Senate floor:

Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, the House and Senate have been seeking common ground to finish the appropriations work for FY 2011.  Sadly, rather than reaching a workable, bi-partisan solution to responsibly address our staggering deficit, we are repeatedly given a false choice between CR proposals that either don’t go far enough to reduce federal spending and proposals that set the wrong priorities that would disproportionately affect low-income families and seniors, while doing little to address critical, long-term issues…

Our collective work begins by having a clear understanding of the seriousness of our budget crisis and what is at stake if we fail to address it.  We can all agree that we simply cannot continue on this reckless, unsustainable course.  Reducing and eliminating needless spending and programs are appropriate, but a wholesale reduction in spending, without considering economic, cultural, and social impacts is simply irresponsible. We must also be mindful that many of the proposed spending reductions would disproportionately affect the neediest among us, including housing and heating assistance.  Likewise, some of the proposed cuts would be economically counterproductive, negatively impacting our ability to innovate and invest in research and development.

Deficit reduction is a necessary goal for our country.  But deficit reduction should not be achieved in isolation of our priorities as a government and a society.  I believe that responsible and meaningful bi-partisan support must be found and forged if we are to achieve long-term fiscal stability.  I intend to be a part of the discussions and the solutions for how to move our country forward, without eliminating programs that are successful, cost-effective, or critical to the livelihood of the neediest among us.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky responded by paying homage to the Tea Party and their “fiscal bravery:”

“[T]hanks to ordinary Americans like these speaking their minds and advocating for common sense reforms, I’m increasingly confident we’ll get our fiscal house in order,” McConnell said of the tea party movement. “Republicans are determined to do our part.”

But none of what the Tea Party or the GOP leadership is advocating is common sense, not by a long shot.  Instead of tackling the big movers of the deficit: defense and entitlement programs, conservatives have made a big deal of cutting discretionary programs, which make up only 12 percent of the budget.  That’s not bravery, it’s cowardice and cynicism.
Brown is correct that the cuts offered hurt the neediest in our society more than anyone else.  This isn’t even about balancing the budget on the backs of the poor as the Left claims, it’s just cutting something just for the hell of it.
If Republicans want to tackle the deficit then they need to go after programs that the middle class enjoy (hello mortgage interest deduction).  We need to tackle Medicare and Social Security.  But of course, dealing with those would be bring the wrath of the middle classes, especially those Tea Partiers who want to cut programs for the poor, but doesn’t want Washington to touch their Medicare.
Brown will no doubt catch hell for his stand, but he continues to get my praise and support.

On RINO Hunts, Ctd.

Bruce Gilson, who has, ahem, more experience when it comes to living, has this response to my earlier post on RINO Hunts:

I don’t think Riley’s type of thing is really new. The tension between extremist and moderate Republicans has been going on since 1964 at least (remember Barry Goldwater’s “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And … moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” in his acceptance speech). Even the “RINO” designation applied by extremists to moderates is decades old by now. One has to accept that there are some who cannot accept that the Republican Party is not ideologically homogeneous, and work around them. (emphasis mine)

Bruce makes a strong note here.  It’s easy to think that the rise of extremists within the GOP is some recent phenomenon, but the tension between the two wings of the party has been there for at least 50 years if not more.  I’ve read articles from the 1980s where this was still an issue back then. The extremists have always been like the schoolyard bully who threaten the timid moderate.  The problem is that moderates never really try to stand up to the bully.  We whine about the bully and talk about how unfair it is to be bullied, but we never face them down. 

Politics is always going to be rough game.  Moderates have to learn to fight back and stand up for themselves.  The world doesn’t care about whiners.

On RINO Hunts

The blogger known as the Moderate Republican wonders aloud why the GOP is so intent to go after fellow Republicans:

That giant sucking sound you hear is all the independents being sucked out of the Republican’s grasp due to our own short sightedness. First Obama, predictably tacks to the center to once again appear the honest broker. Then the Tea Party pushes the newly relevant GOP-lead Congress nearly off a cliff, and now this:

Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) is raising money “to defeat candidates who wear the GOP label but are Democrats in disguise,” the AP reports.

They plan to raise $2-3 million to target RINOs who they describe “as Democrats trying to run in the Republican primary in hopes it will be easier to get elected to the Legislature with the GOP label.”


An Example of “Make Everybody Hurt?”

Nick Goebel is impressed with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s brand of fiscal discipline:

Governor Snyder’s budget that he unveiled last week is a truly unique document in so many ways.  For one, it is an apolitical document that cuts from almost every constituency.  Unlike Republican Governor Walker in Wisconsin, Snyder did not just cut from political constituencies that are loyal to Democrats; he also took on loyal Republican constituencies.  For example, senior citizens could see their pensions taxed if Snyder’s budget is passed.  It is obvious that the Governor’s objective was not to score political points or protect political allies.  As Lt. Governor Brian Calley said, “Whenever people would get weak in the knees and offer a political answer about why not to do something,” Snyder would come back with, “What’s the right thing to do?”

This makes me wonder if Synder if following along the lines of what David Brooks said in an oped last week regarding dealing with state and federal budget issues: “Make Everybody Hurt.”  Brooks believes that budget cuts can only make sense if everyone’s sacred cow gets gored.  His belief is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s approach is too partisan: only attacking programs favored by Democrats or programs that don’t have a constituency to fight back.  His fellow Republican Synder, is willing to take on people who do vote, like his plan to tax retirees benefits in an effort to balance the budget.

I happened to be back in Michigan when Gov. Synder gave his State of the State address in January.  I thought it has some great ideas and the budget he came out with was fair-minded in my view. It will be interesting to see what approach will benefit the GOP over the long run: Walker’s go for the jugular tactic or Synder’s quiet diplomacy. Time will tell.

Why the GOP Needs Centrists

A lot has happened since the blogger known as the Moderate Republican wrote this back in 2009.  Scott Brown added to the number of New England moderate Republicans and the GOP won back the house and won increased numbers in the Senate on the strength of the Tea Party movement. 

So here is the question for you all this weekend: is this essay still true?  Does the GOP need to change to be more appealing to centrists, or can it win by being more ideologically pure?

This is what the Moderate Republican said in 2009:

If you talk to a large number of average, everyday people you will find they do not fit into the ideological boxes that many political activists like to put them in. There are such things as pro-life liberals and environmentalist conservatives. Talk to enough people and you will see evangelicals who think the government should offer universal health care, and left-leaning teachers who think school choice is the best option to fix schools. This is where the political fight is. How can Republicans make a convincing case to this vast and fertile middle ground in America?


More on Christine O’Donnell and the End of the Delware GOP

Doug Mataconis:

Delaware is a Blue State and it’s likely to be one for a long time, but there was a time when it did produce Republicans who were capable of winning statewide. Not just Mike Castle, but guys like William Roth and Pete duPont. Thanks to the damage that the party suffered in 2010, it’s going to be a long time before Delaware produces a candidate like that again.

The point here isn’t to kick Christine O’Donnell yet again, but to point out that there are consequences to nominating a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning a General Election. Not only do you lose the race itself, but you hurt your party in down ticket races.

The GOP could have taken the Senate had they ran more credible candidates in states like Delaware.  Indeed, the GOP establishment had supported a capable candidate in Mike Castle, but the Tea Party had other ideas and took a candidate that had a chance out of the running.

Which leads to this question: how does a party learn to control its more purist elements?  How can a party please its base and also reach beyond it?

Both/And Conservatism

Ryan Streeter of Conservative Home-USA argues that the conservative movement needs to build a winning coalition ala what Reagan did in the 80s; one that is flexible to new ideas and also keeps the base:

Conservatism needs to figure out how to build broad coalitions once again. The stuff of Bill Buckley and Ronald Reagan. As the new House majority rolls into town this week, the mantra is cutting spending and getting government under control – as it should be. But this narrow mandate is not a governing agenda. Without a broader agenda, conservatives will falter – sooner than we think.

Read the whole thing.  Streeter makes sense.  Will conservative leaders listen?