Monday, August 07, 2006

Sorry, Christine Todd Whitman, But There's No Room for You in the Republican Party

Poor former Governor Whitman of New Jersey. She hasn’t figured out yet what conservative Republicans have made abundantly clear: the “Religious Right- neo-libertarian- neo-con” faction of the Republican Party wishes to rule the Republican Party, with various leaders from within these factions acceptable so long as they agree to the policies of the rest of the faction. Anyone from the “moderate to liberal” (not that there are many liberals left within the Republican Party) will be tolerated so long as they help the conservative branch of the Republican Party object some objectives. Yet, once those objectives have been reached, there definitely is no room for moderates within the leadership of the Republican Party, according to this new generation of conservative Republican leadership.

Christine Todd Whitman believes there is room for moderate Republicans within the Republican Party and her book “It’s My Party, Too” argues that moderate Republicans need to organize and demand their role in the leadership ranks. While she makes a passionate plea, she may soon have to realize what most moderate Republicans to the north of her, those in New England and New York, have already realized. There is no place for moderates within the Republican Party anymore. If you can not pass the litmus test that the new Republican leadership demands, you might as well stop wasting your time within the Republican Party. You will be much more comfortable within the Democratic Party.

Governor Whitman does make some excellent arguments in her book. She notes that when President Bush pushes the agenda demanded by the conservative Republicans—attempting to oust a Republican National Chairwoman because she’s pro-choice, halting social security reform in order to push for a ban against gay marriage, making proclamations on the rights to terminate the life of someone who is brain dead, etc.—Bush loses popularity. That is because Whitman indeed is right when she observes that this agenda is not popular amongst the voters. The right wing has brought the Republican Party to a point where it is losing touch with a majority of voters. Yet, this right wing leadership at least should be credited for standing by what they believe, and they are not going to compromise with moderates, no matter how much the moderates believes compromise is possible. It is the goal of these conservatives to use the Republican Party to push their agenda. They are not in it for the good of the Republican Party, but for the specifics of their conservative agenda.

Whitman should read her own book again. She discusses how Karl Rove runs his agenda past James Dobson because the White House needs the approval of such conservative commentators as Dobson. She notes that values are important to voters, and then questions whether those values should be those limited to those as defined by evangelical Republican leaders. Her book describes how the Southern Strategy of the Republican Party appealed to base racist sentiments among Southern voters. In many instances, she describes how Republican conservatives are “outward hostile” to moderate Republicans. Her observations are correct. Her hope that this conservative leadership will change and accept moderates back into the party is wishful thinking, yet very unlikely.

The author warns—correctly—that this litmus test is slowly losing ground politically as more and more voters are rejecting this conservative agenda. More and more people are being shoved out of the Republican Party. For example, when conservative Republicans insisted that sexual education classes in public schools teach “abstinence only”, many fed-up voters then left the Republican Party. She notes even Barry Goldwater, who was pro-choice on abortion and supported allowing gays into the military, would be unacceptable as a Republican leader today. She believes that moderates can save this sinking political ship, yet I suspect the best moderates can offer is to go down with conservatives on a sinking ship which moderates may not even agree should be kept afloat.

Christine Todd Whitman took some commendable actions as Governor. She had the New Jersey police review their policies regarding racial profiling. Yet, as noted even in her own book: none of her other Republican Governors have followed her with a similar review. As Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, the reader truly believes that she was concerned about the environment. Yet, her book tells how Vice President Cheney’s energy task force undermined her good intentions. Instead, the Bush Administration ignored her and acted on behalf of industries which desired fewer environmental controls. Mrs. Whitman should eventually come to this realization: you may have good intentions, but your fellow Republicans don’t. Don’t expect them to change to your views. Their views are set.


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