The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Will the GOP Listen This Time?

Posted by demkid on April 29, 2009

Good op-ed in the Times today by Olympia Snowe, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans on Capitol Hill.  I fully agree that the GOP (and the Democrats, for that matter) can’t survive without strong moderate voices.  As Senator Snowe states, “There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party.”  She also brings up the last major political shift, when Jim Jeffords left the party to become an independent (and caucus with the Democrats) back in 2001.  There are eerie similarities between that move and the one that happened yesterday.  Jeffords’ switch flipped control (albeit temporarily) back to the Senate Democrats, whereas Specter’s switch pushed them tantalizingly close to a supermajority. 

Jeffords’ move also brought with it serious warning signs for the Republican Party.  NPR’s Nina Totenberg said at the time, “Republicans, when they govern from the right and castigate their moderate members, do so at their peril.  It seems to me that the modern Republican Party and its moderate wing are in a sort of, to use the psychobabble of the era, in an abusive relationship…and the moderates are the enablers and the conservatives are the abusers and they just got used to doing it that way and suddenly one member said I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Eight years later, the same message is being sent.  This time, though, the GOP finds itself completely out of power with their overall numbers dwindling fast.  Will the party listen to their now-former member who wasn’t going to take it anymore?  Will they listen to their remaining moderate members who are being pushed further towards the edge?  Or, will they continue to play the role of the abuser, ignore calls to change, and find themselves even deeper in the political wilderness 8 years from now?  My guess is, Senator Snowe will have to go through a whole lot more pain before her party finally starts getting it.

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One Response to “Will the GOP Listen This Time?”

  1. i doubt we see any moderation for a few more years. If you look at the breakdown of where the republican lawmakers hail from you find a party largely dominated by southern influences. The far right southern lawmakers represent their constituents. c.f. Gov Perry and secession. These are the people driving the party bus right and they have no interest in moderating that. Most are happy to see the back of arlen and would probably be happy to see Snowe and Collins go too. The conservative search for purity still has plenty of juice left.

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