Monday, November 27, 2006

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?


At 9:42 PM, Blogger Dennis Sanders said...

You know, I don't think you can count us moderate to liberal Republicans out yet. The mainstream media has been writing our obit for years and there are still moderates out there. I think the pendulum has to swing back because people in the GOP want to win. They will do what they can to do that and if it means swinging back towards the middle, then I think they will do that. I think the model will be Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was able to win in a "blue" year.

As for whether or not there is room for us, I think there is room as long as we decide to stay and fight.

Hang in there! We need all the moderates Republicans we can!

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Lanky_Bastard said...

Still have Snowe, and I guess Collins.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger fmodo said...

Two reasons for hope:

The remaining moderate Republicans are more influential in the new Congress. Both houses are even more closely divided than they were, making swing votes critical, and the moderate voices are now heard in the majority caucus.

And having fewer elected moderate Republicans in Washington doesn't mean there are less moderate Republican voters. People with core political values of fiscal responsibility, strong defense, environmental stewardship etc are still going to the polls, and will be the base for the right candidates.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Rick said...

Unfortunately you folks have been on the outside for a long time, ever since the GOP decided to achieve its permanent majority through one of the strangest coalitions ever conceived: a coming-together of intolerant religous loonies and rich white guys. It's amazing the wheels stayed on as long as they did.

The reason that even 'moderate' Republicans got the axe this time around is that no matter how 'moderate' they seemed to be, they were still Republicans first and thinking people with a conscience 'way second...which is why despite his high personal ratings Chafee is now out. This time the voters realized that the only way to put the brakes on Bush was to elect a Democratic majority.

Start growing some Republicans like Jake Javits again and you might have a chance.

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Rob Sisson said...


The Road to Republican Recovery
By Dave Jenkins, Government Affairs Director
Republicans for Environmental Protection
Tuesday's election debacle shows clearly that the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan has lost its way.

Party leaders have fallen prey to a toxic combination of shrill ideological extremism and venal pandering to special interests. To regain the electorate's trust and find a clear path to electoral success, the Republican Party must rediscover traditional conservative values and focus constructively on solving the pressing problems, especially energy and climate change, that have vast ramifications for America's security, economy, and quality of life

The foundation of recovery must be the party's rediscovery of true conservatism - the ideals articulated by conservative thinkers such as Edmund Burke, Michigan native Russell Kirk, and Richard Weaver. Conservation and environmental stewardship are central to conservatism and are based on fundamental conservative tenets - thrift, prudence, humility, restraint, piety towards creation, freedom with responsibility, and our moral obligation to leave a healthy inheritance to future generations.

The Right Diagnosis

Republicans lost because too many of the party’s elected leaders poisoned the well for them. The Republican Party was justifiably perceived as the party of excess and arrogance that pandered to greedy special interests, let cronyism and corruption cloud their judgment, failed to deal constructively with the nation's most pressing problems and trampled on traditional conservative values -- including the conservation ethic that is central to true conservatism.

Voters, especially independent-minded citizens, were fed up with the corruption, radical ideology, and grubby machine politics of our party leaders. They took out their dissatisfaction on all Republicans, even those incumbents who had records of integrity, had resisted poorly conceived legislation, and had conscientiously represented their constituents. This toxic political environment unfortunately cost some of our most conscientious, responsive, and conservation-minded Republican lawmakers their jobs.

Still, it is worth noting that Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) endorsed 28 incumbents for the House and Senate, and the incumbent Republican governor of California. Nineteen of the REP endorsed incumbents in Congress won, most without difficulty.

The Right Cure

The most spectacular win among REP-endorsed candidates was that of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who defied the "blue wave" and secured re-election in a landslide. His electoral triumph demonstrates for Republicans the right way to build trust with the electorate, broaden their political appeal, and govern effectively. Schwarzenegger impressed his constituents with a results-oriented performance that skillfully blended conservative principles and political pragmatism.

Schwarzenegger bargained constructively with the Democrat-controlled Legislature and compiled a breathtaking record of environmental achievement - for example, ocean protection, forest conservation, solar energy development, and the most sweeping policy in the United States to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are destabilizing the global climate. Schwarzenegger himself pointed to his record of putting performance above partisanship, including his environmental achievements, as the key to his wave-defying victory.

The broader lesson of Schwarzenegger's triumph for the Republican Party is that a return to traditional conservative values, including a strong conservation ethic, and a willingness to work constructively with Democrats on solving urgent national problems will appeal broadly to citizens who are increasingly worried about global warming, oil dependence, and the risks they pose to our nation's security, economy, and quality of life. By turning away from the corrupting influence of special interests and returning to a spirit of principled public service, the Republican Party will take the right lessons from 2006.

We know that the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan can do better, much better than what citizens have seen in the last few years. REP wants to help our party find a clear path to renewed vigor, principled commitment, and electoral victory in 2008 and beyond.


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