I’ve had this conversation twice today, once with a fellow liberal and the other time with a fierce independent and we all three agree:
The Republican party needs to step up over the next four years if it wants to play a serious role in this country’s politics.
Four years ago, in the wake of the Bush presidency and after the failure of the McCain – Palin ticket, the party was hijacked by the Rush Limbaughs of the world and dragged impossibly far to the right.
The GOP’s position on things like abortion and immigration were revised so that what once had been moderate positions within the party were now considered outside the party.
With no apparent heir to Bush or McCain, the Republicans have given into the extreme wing of their party for fear of getting unseated by Tea Party candidates the way Christine O’Donnell destroyed Mike Castle’s chances at the US Senate here in Delaware or Lisa Murkowski had to run as a write-in candidate after getting defeated in the primaries by Joe Miller.
We saw this again last night: When you go too far to the edges, you may still win your party, but you’re not going to win the general vote. Dick Lugar would have won easily last night, but his unseating by Richard Murdoch winded up giving Republicans a pick-up in the Senate.
There is an alternative, though, to this crazy, fanatical version of the Republican party as it exists right now under Donald Trump.
I have two examples of what I consider good leadership for the GOP to consider.
Firstly, Chris Christie. While everyone is obsessing over his ability to work with Obama following Hurricane Sandy, I think this a no-nonsense man who could teach some of the clowns in his party a thing or two.
Secondly, Rick Snyder. Michigan’s nerd. Although I haven’t always been the friendliest to our governor on this blog and I definitely disagree with some of his policies (EFM, anyone?), I think that Snyder is a smart man, a good leader, and he knows how to stay above the level of petty politics that has kept this country in a stalemate for the last couple years.
Today, Snyder reiterated his desire to stay away from “divisive issues” like right-to-work laws that House Republicans want to bring forward.
Earlier this year, Snyder said that he would not sign a bill passed by Michigan Republicans requiring voters to bring photo ID to the polls, correctly citing the confusion that it would introduce right before an election.
While other politicians are out pursuing blatantly partisan agendas, Snyder is doing a pretty commendable job working in a bi-partisan (maybe even non-partisan) manner.
To the rest of the GOP, you have two options. You can stay on course. You can keep racing to the right and trying to win elections by voter suppression. You will definitely still win some contests. You’ll probably hold the US House for a while, too. But you will continue losing races you should win when you pick candidates like Joe Miller, Sharon Angle, Todd Aiken, Richard Murdoch, or Christine O’Donnell.
Or you could step up and show that you have a role to play in our politics that isn’t purely contrarian. You could show us that you want to be answerable to the American people rather than the most extreme elements within your party.
Mitt Romney failed, in part, because the GOP is dominated by voices demanding a “severely conservative” candidate. But the United States is not the GOP.
Maybe it’s time to retool.