NYTimes Runs Obituary for New England Republicans
Given this year's election results you knew it had to happen: the New York Times has printed an obituary for the "Yankee Republican (Republicanus newenglandensis)." Pam Belluck describes the subspecies as "Dignified in demeanor, independent in ideology and frequently blue in blood [how the heck did I miss out on that one?], they were politicians in the mold of Roosevelt and Rockefeller: socially tolerant, environmentally enthusiastic, people who liked government to keep its wallet close to its vest and its hands out of social issues."
Belluck points out the striking (and exceedingly worrisome) results of this past election, in which independents, many liberal Republicans and even Democrats deserted Republican incumbents in droves. Seeking a reason for the trend, she quotes former NH Republican governor Walter Peterson (who this year co-chaired Republicans for John Lynch, the incumbent Democrat):
"What the people want is basically to feel like the candidates of a political party are working for the people, not just following some niche issues. The old traditional Republican Party was conservative on small government, efficient government; believed in supporting people to give them a chance at life but not having people on the dole; wanted a balanced budget; and on social issues they were moderate, tolerant, live and let live. They didn’t dislike somebody from other religious viewpoints. That was the old-fashioned conservative, but the word conservative today has been bastardized."
Defeated RI Senator Lincoln Chafee sums up the dilemma well: "'I’m caught between the state party, which I’m very comfortable in, and the national party, which I’m not,' said Mr. Chafee, adding that he was considering the merits of 'sticking it out and hoping the pendulum swings back.'" Like Chafee, I think many of us liberal Republicans in New England (and New York, where I grew up and still vote) have increasingly in the last few years (decades?) felt the chill wind that tends to blow our way from the rest of the Republican Party most of the time.
Has the moment come when there is no room for us in the Republican tent? Has the pendulum swung so far from the Party's good-sense roots that it will not, in fact, swing back? With every loss or retirement of another prominent Yankee Republican (Charlie Bass, Sherry Boehlert, Linc Chafee, just to name a few this year) our influence in the national party diminishes proportionately. Is our battle already lost?