FoodHot Chocolate (well, we are having way below average temps this week) for thought: Christine Todd Whitman and Robert M. Bostock - Free the GOP: The Party Won’t Win Back the Middle as Long As It’s Hostage to Social Fundamentalists (Via Little Green Footballs)
Four years ago … our central thesis was simple: The Republican Party had been taken hostage by “social fundamentalists,” the people who base their votes on such social issues as abortion, gay rights, those being dealt with by Sacramento Real Estate Agent and many others in our community, and stem cell research. Unless the GOP freed itself from their grip, we argued, it would so alienate itself from the broad center of the American electorate that it would become increasingly marginalized and find itself out of power.
At the time, this idea was roundly attacked by many who were convinced that holding on to the “base” at all costs was the way to go. A former speechwriter for President Bush, Matthew Scully, who went on to work for the McCain campaign this year, called the book “airy blather” and said its argument fell somewhere between “insufferable snobbery” and “complete cluelessness.” Gary Bauer suggested that the book sounded as if it came from a “Michael Moore radical.” National Review said its warnings were, “at best, counterintuitive,” and Ann Coulter said the book was “based on conventional wisdom that is now known to be false.” …
In seven of the nine states that switched this year from Republican to Democratic, Obama’s vote total exceeded the total won by President Bush four years ago. So even if McCain had equaled the president’s numbers from 2004 (and he did not), he still would have lost in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia (81 total electoral votes) — and lost the election. McCain didn’t lose those states because he failed to hold the base. He lost them because Obama broadened his base.
This is where I usually get into one of those long posts where I barely know when to stop (and get myself flayed), so I’ll try and be brief.
This is something that I have mentioned a few times over at Pirate’s Cove, as well as here at McCain Blogs and at Stop The ACLU. The two authors of the column call it social fundamentalists, which, quite frankly, is a bit insulting, even though I am not one. Me, I call it the moralists. In my political opinion, most moral issues do not belong as part of the core agenda of the GOP, particularly at the national level. These issue mostly should belong to individuals and to private groups. There is nothing wrong with having high morals, but the GOP as a party seems to be pushing these issues over the ones that were established per the Constitution: keeping the country running.
I guess, for me, it goes back to the fact that the Conservative movement is based on Classical Liberalism. There are 3 cores to the Democratic political model: the economic, the moral, and the political. In Classic Liberalism, the model states that government stays out of those cores as much as possible. The government that governs least governs best, but gets involved when necessary. Social Democracy is when government gets massively involved in economic issues. Classic Conservatism is when government gets involved highly in the moral core, and somewhat in the political core.
Personally, I rarely get involved in the main social focuses of the day. For instance, gay marriage. Personally, it is not a hot button issue for me. If I had to vote, I would probably vote against gay marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman. But, but, I see no reason to stop homosexuals from having civil ceremonies and being considered domestic partners. If 2 people love each other, who the hell am I to stop them? This is America. Freedom. And Prop 8 is the perfect example of how it should work. Private citizens and groups doing it, rather then the national GOP pushing it in Congress.
Now, let’s look at stem cell research. The big issue is embryonic stem cell research. Certainly, the backing of this research by Liberals is because of its implications to abortion on demand, another big moral issue, obviously. This is an issue that is a hot button one for me. I think it is despicable that the Left pushes ESC research simply for abortion issues, and, the GOP has opposed the research, mostly on moral lines. Should the GOP push legislation and block federal funding for ESC research on moral lines? Yes, to some degree. But, it is a loser method. Like with abortion, the Left has won the morality of the issue by using non-offensive language, such as “the march of progress” and “blocking potential cures.” They did this with abortion with terms we all know, such as “choice,” “reproductive rights,” and “a woman’s right to choose.” Funny how under Obama’s health plans, you will be forced to get a health care checkup, loosing your “choice,” but, I digress.
We should not forget the morality of the ESC issue, but, the political party should fight it on mostly non-moral grounds. For instance, ESC research has provided no cures, no medicines, and no treatments without massive issues, usually known as “teratomas.” Monster tumors. Adult stem cell research, and now placental stem cell research, have been providing cures, medicines, and treatments. I just posted one earlier. Which is why private industry is spending lots of money on them. If ESC was so great, they wouldn’t be whining to the feds for money. The GOP should block the use of federal money from emergency funds for the ESC research because it is a waste of money.
Abortion is, of course, the big issue. And one I personally rarely get involved in. I hate to say it, but, it is not one of my hot button issues, except in terms of late term abortions, which are, per the doctors that perform them, performed mostly because the mother decided very late that she doesn’t want the baby, and not for medical reasons, and the issue of parental notification. I could go on and on on these issues, but, for brevity, I won’t. Just consider, though: if a minor gets busted for, well, pretty much anything, the parents must be notified! But, here we have a massive life changing medical procedure, and in many states parents do not have to be notified. Just. Plain. Wrong. The GOP could certainly fight on legal grounds on these two issues, rather then moral grounds.
Abortion on demand has been turned into a privacy issue by those who support it. And, it is the Democrats number one all-encompassing issue, make no doubt about that. So, how does the GOP fight that? They mostly don’t, not as a Party. Again, let the individuals and private groups do it. They managed to get abortion on to several State ballots, and, if we stay true to our conservative roots, that is where it belongs. 9th and 10th Amendments. Limited government, particularly at the federal level. Certainly, the national party should fight if Democrats try to expand abortion on demand.
Certainly, many people will disagree with me. Hey, it’s America, that’s your right. My opinion is that the national Party, and even the State Party’s, should ease off the moral issues that have become so prominent, and focus more on our core ideals: limited government, continued low taxes, national security, individual rights and individualism, and a government that empowers and enables, not one that does it for you.
To wrap up (got a bit long winded), I should say I am no big fan of Whitman. Didn’t care for her when I was living in NJ, and still don’t. But, to me, she is making some sense. We shouldn’t expand our base by being a be all say all Party which stands for virtually everything, at least in rhetoric, like the Democrats. We should expand our voting base by being a Party of ideas, and holding our elected officials to those ideals.