Everyone is insisting that the Republican Party must change or face extinction. I happen to agree, but I'm not sure how or even if they can.
In the NY Time's Letters section, Daniel Lieberfeld, an associate professor of public policy, wrote a letter suggesting some changes:
...a party deriving much of its support from rural and blue-collar whites and upper-income people will lose national elections in the future because these groups are shrinking relative to groups that tend to support Democrats.
Given their numerical disadvantages, it takes no leap of logic to understand why Republicans would see suppressing voting by groups that lean Democratic as a key electoral strategy.
But the party’s future prospects, and the country’s, would be better served by expanding Republicans’ appeal to women; to younger voters; to the growing numbers of Americans with college educations; and, particularly, to urban voters, who include most Latinos, African-Americans and Asian-Americans.
But how? If the party becomes more appealing to the groups listed, won't they lose almost as many hard right voters who will be angered or repelled by a more moderate GOP who will either stay home or vote third-party?
The Times published some reader's reactions to Professor Lieberfeld's letter.
Steve Nelson just wants the GOP to go away:
Mr. Lieberfeld concludes his counsel of moderation to Republican leaders by urging us to “wish them success.” I’d rather wish them sayonara.
They’ve foisted faulty ideas and pushed political extremism for far too long. Yes, we need a rational conservative opposition, and Republicans once were. But they’ve been taken hostage by their fundamentalist right wing and are being left behind by the demographic evolution of the American electorate.
Every once in a great while in our history, a major American party goes extinct. For the Grand Old Party, the party may well be over.
This is pretty much how I feel, but it's not likely to happen.
Randy Moody writes as a Republican:
The problem, as many of us party faithful recognize, is not only the message, but the messengers. Only when a leader emerges who recognizes that women’s health is an election game-changer will the Republican Party be a viable player in future elections.
Michael Pacer disagrees:
Some people are saying we “conservatives” should move to the left if we want to win elections. That is not an option! I would rather see the G.O.P. lose every election than become “light Democrats.”
Some of us feel that we will have to answer to a “higher power,” so we will not embrace abortion, amnesty for illegal immigrants, socialized medicine and cuts to our military to pay for entitlements. The liberal media have done a great job making half of our citizens believe that America is the problem.
Okay, but please recognize that a majority of voters now reject this view and there is probably nothing a Republican Party that runs on this platform can say to change their minds. You would rather lose than change? Then you will lose just like every third party loses.
[I'm always baffled why a "higher power" (God) is against amnesty for illegal immigrants and "socialized" medicine. I thought God was on the side of the poor.]
Grace Michelakes probably has the most practical suggestion:
After spending the last week reading the post-mortems on the Republican presidential campaign, I am not surprised that G.O.P. pundits and analysts still miss the point. The Republicans show lack of respect for differing views; one Texas Republican called the voters who re-elected President Obama “maggots.”
They show lack of respect for women, for immigrants and minorities, for gay people, for unions. They deny science; they reject climate change. After alienating half of the electorate, it isn’t rational for them to think that a majority will cast ballots for their agenda. Until the G.O.P. shows sincere respect for diversity, it will continue to lose nationally.
This is my advice: Work toward moving everyone forward rather than blaming, stigmatizing or excluding. Be credible in your opposition; support your point of view with facts and evidence. Stop believing that people don’t get your message; we got it and rejected it. Decide on which positions you can compromise. Realize that you may need to ignore the extreme right wing of your party to return to power.
In my opinion this is the only way the Republican Party can recover and thrive in the long run. However, while Grace suggests the GOP may have to ignore the extreme right wing, I can confidently predict that unless the Republican Party can silence Fox News and the humiliate Rush and his imitators, they are doomed. I doubt if they can or even have the will to try.
Some other good comments:
I am an ordained Protestant minister...the religious beliefs of others should not be forced on people who are not of the same mind. It’s part of the controlling personality of the Republican Party that others find repulsive.
It seems as if the party’s overriding hatred is of modernity itself, of all the changes that have taken place over the past half century. This is the common thread uniting the opponent of gay rights, the anti-government zealot and the white man who cannot accept the idea of a black president...The dialogue of which Mr. Lieberfeld speaks can begin only when Republican ideology focuses on the world as it is, rather than the fantasy of a perfect past.
But it's the letter from Teed Rockwell that makes the most sense to me:
The Republicans’ problem is that any move toward the center will make them indistinguishable from the Democrats. In my view, the Democrats are a center-right party, and there is simply no space for any sane positions to the right of them. That is why the Republicans spend most of their time criticizing President Obama for things he hasn’t actually done (raise taxes, move toward socialism, pass job-killing regulations, abandon Israel and so on).
President Obama is doing almost all the things that the Republicans have always said they wanted. They reject him only because they want power for themselves.
What America needs is an actual progressive liberal party that is to the left of the Democrats, so there can be a genuine liberal-conservative dialogue. Then the Republicans can go the way of the Whigs and the Know-Nothings.
Grace and Teed suggest that the Republican Party move to the left of their current extreme right positions. Teed says this will make them indistinguishable from the Democrats. No, it will allow the Democrats to also move to the left and the two parties will continue to offer distinct choices.
I would love to see a successful liberal party emerge but I think it is more likely that the best we can expect is a more liberal Democratic Party.