Monday, August 01, 2005


Sometimes I wonder how much longer the Republican party will be able to keep itself together. I think the Christian fundamentalists are going to make things tough enough for the Republican party that it may end up splitting into two parties, or at least seriously losing membership, over religious issues.

The Democratic party may be in something of a state of disarray, in that the public may not be getting any messages or general themes that "resonate" from us. Nonetheless, I think we Democrats will survive as a party. We seem to be more united than our opponents, who are beginning to look more "untied" than "united". And we can thank the far-right folks in the administration and in GOP leadership for galvanizing us. While I would agree with them in principle that we do need to continue the fight against terrorism, they frequently provide the antithesis to what many of us, Republican voters included, stand for in other matters.

The "for us or against us" idea both parties push as the country becomes more and more polarized looks like it may be happening not only between the two major parties, but now within the Republican party itself. How will the GOP bridge the gaps between the religious fundamentalists and their less-fundamentalist or more-secular members? Or the differences between the administration's chickenhawks and those GOP pols and U.S. citizens who have served honorably and have known the horrors of war firsthand?

The Republican party may have some good points in its platform, but I think those will soon be lost on many voters, overshadowed by in-party bickering (which the media will report, should it choose to do its job). Some surveys show that the fundamentalists make up about 1/6 or 1/7 of all voters and about 1/3 of Republican voters. If the GOP loses much of that base, it could be disastrous for their party.

But why is so much emphasis being placed on the fundamentalist side of the GOP? They're a minority within their own party! I think it's probably because the fundamentalists are the most vocal. What about that party's more moderate side? If the "religious right" is actually a minority within the GOP, why don't the more moderate types change their platform as they see fit? Maybe the fact that we have seen some GOP Senators, most recently Bill Frist, breaking ranks with the fundamentalists and/or neocons and/or Bush... is a positive sign of things to come.

I think for the Republican party to survive this, they need to:
1. Bite the bullet, and stop mixing religion with politics.
2. Change their platform to reflect step #1.
3. Welcome all voters, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, sexual preference...
4. Run candidates who keep their religious beliefs private.
5. Encourage the fundamentalists who are morally outraged to start their own political party, maybe call it something like the "Independent Christian Party".

By doing the above, I think the Republicans could make their party more attractive to a larger number of voters, possibly even stealing away some moderate Democrats. The Republicans still might not be addressing some issues as well as the Democrats (they would still be fighting for tax breaks for the rich, the corporations, big oil, etc.), but with the cessation of undue fundamentalist religious influence I think the GOP might do a better job of addressing health issues at home (i.e. stem cell research, abortion), and foreign policy problems (i.e. Israel vs. Palestine, and the war on terror).

However... I doubt the Republican party would do any of the above now that they have tasted the kind of power achieved during the last five years. There is little moderation among their leaders, and it seems to be a matter of "we want it all and we want it now", not unlike the behavior of Congress when Gingrich et al swept into power in 1994... they were like kids in a candy store. Alas, the Bushfolk are behaving in a similar manner, given their party's control over Congress and the Senate, and soon the Supreme Court. Ah, sweet hubris... At this point, I think our nation's leadership is drunk with power, and I don't think they are drinking responsibly. I would volunteer to be their designated driver, but I don't think they're looking for designated drivers right now.

How will the Democrats survive? I believe a lot of it is simply a matter of public relations. If we lefties can find a way to get our platform to the people, and if we can find a charismatic-enough person to carry the message, folks will see that we Democrats will not bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it should we regain the White House. While it may be easier to just sit back and watch the GOP implode, I think a positive, proactive approach is also in order. And we Democrats are mostly united in our desire to rid the country of "leadership" that is driven by fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible, by an obsessive need for secrecy, and by think-tanks such as Project for the New American Century (i.e. the neocons). I believe that many of us on the left view such things as threats, not just to the American way of life, but to the entire world.

If the Bush administration won't hand over the keys to the car, maybe we the people, as bartender, at least need to stop serving them drinks. Of course, simply kicking them out of the bar is another option. I prefer the latter.


Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Well, Snave, the first step to accomplishing that which you wish for the Democratic Party would be to get a new Chairman. Howard Dean is a Republican's wet dream. He sounds pretty "out there," tastes his own shoe leather more often than Dubya, and has exhibited more than a bit of trouble with recognizing and expressing the truth.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

First, let me just say that for everything mandelbrot said, I believe the opposite to be true.

Your post was excellent, Snave. Let me ponder it for a while & I'll get back to you in the morning.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Republicans don't need wet dreams because they are all wet in their reality. But that is why they don't like Howard Dean because he dampens their prospects.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

MC, Dean may well be a little goofy, but I don't think his utterances provide nearly the anti-Democrat fodder that you seem to suggest. If the Republicans want to try and divert public attention from "the gaps between the religious fundamentalists and their less-fundamentalist or more-secular members" and "the differences between the administration's chickenhawks and those GOP pols and U.S. citizens who have served honorably and have known the horrors of war firsthand" by focusing on one person, Howard Dean, in order to galvanize their voters, it suggests to me their leadership may be grasping at straws. I think it's a good way for the GOP leadership to distract the Republican voters from the divisions within their own party, anyway.

While I think Dean IS something of a loose cannon, and while I wouldn't mind it if he thinks more often before he speaks sometimes, I tend to agree with his basic political views. While Republicans will attempt to portray Dean as a liability to the party, I think he will be good at getting the Democrats fired up for 2008, like he did in 2004. I think it would be hard to argue that he didn't function as a motivator to Democrats during his own candidacy and then during Kerry's campaign The Dems didn't win the election, I guess, but I believe Dean did help the party shake off the post-9/11 stupor.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

I completely agree with Snave about Dr. Dean.

As far as the Republican party surviving the rift, unfortunately I think they will. For now, the right-wingnuts have the power, so as long as they are able to continue installing people into office & accomplish their agendas, the moderates are going to go along with it.

It won't be until they have completely ruined this once great country, as well as squashing any support we have left abroad, that the moderates will finally say enough.

As far as the Democrats go, I agree with Snave (again) 100%.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Frankly, I'm deeply disappointed in all of your stances about the Democratic Party, Republican Party, or any political party at all. Lizzy, your post in particular shows a lack of critical thought bordering on extreme intellectual laziness. No political party is all "good" or all "bad". For every Lieberman there's a Byrd. For every Obama, there's a Kennedy or Polosi. And for every McCain or Giuliani, there's a Lott or Tancredo.

I've never voted a straight ticket in my life, nor do I ever plan to do so. The closest I ever came to doing so, I felt more than a little bit dirty, but it was in a non-Presidential year and I live in a Republican stronghold. I believe my area even went to Dole in '96.

As far as Dean, I think he's already established him as being too far off the mainstream to be considered a serious force. Besides, who actually knows who the party chairpersons are of the two major parties, though in that, at least, Dean is an anomaly. To be brutally honest, anomaly is too kind a term. The term "distraction" is far more accurate, and it's clear that he only got the job because no other credible candidate wanted the post.

And Lizzy, yes, the sky is falling. In all seriousness, though, I see the Republican Party shifting more towards the center in order to form an identity separate from President Bush. We may have already seen signs of it in Senator Dr. Frist's support of stem-cell research. Also, unlike Dean, Dr. Frist is a real doctor, transplant surgeon I believe, and a damned good one. If I'm lying on a stretcher somewhere dying, I would much rather have Frist nearby than Dean, as the former might be able to save me, and the latter would only be able to talk my ear off.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

MC, if I recall correctly, Bill Frist was the doctor who evaluated Terri Schiavo from roughly 1,000 miles away by looking at selected video clips. I learned all I needed to know about Frist from that expert diagnosis of his, and I knew then and there that I wouldn't want him operating on me, let along diagnosing me, let alone becoming POTUS. Bring on Dr. Dean.

If the Republican party does shift toward the center, I believe it will alienate many from about 1/3 of it's voters, that is, the fundamentalist Christians. I think Democrats have become galvanized by the current administration and its policies, and the Dems will stay united in order to insure there will be no continuation of neoconservative policies in the White House.

In anticipation of the counter-argument to that: sure, lots of the fundamentalists would stick with a center-moving GOP in order to insure that liberals wouldn't get into the White House, but I don't think ALL of them would because of adhering strictly to their convictions... which in an evenly divided electorate could be disastrous for the Republicans. I believe that many of the fundamentalists would be disillusioned and would either not vote, or else they would support an independent candidate. I can foresee something similar to when Ross Perot ran, i.e. a third candidate who would siphon off enough of the Republican vote, say maybe 8% or 10%... enough to insure an easy Democratic victory. I think the cracks are beginning to show in the Republican party, while the Dems are working in filling their cracks in.

I would like nothing more than to see the GOP have to admit the marriage of religion and politics as a failed social experiment. I don't think the sky is necessarily falling. I think we've had some really lousy weather for a while, but that the sun may be starting to break through, and that in a few years lots of us may be singing "Happy Days Are Here Again" if the cards are played correctly.

As far as voting straight tickets go, I usually (but not always) vote Democrat. In Oregon, our primary system is not an open one, meaning that if you are a registered Democrat you may only vote to choose the Democratic candidates in the primary. I have changed my registration to Republican twice, once to vote against an especially controlling far-right candidate I didn't particularly want to see running for Congress, and another time to vote for a guy from my end of the state who I happened to like regarding his policies on education in Oregon. I have voted Democratic about 50% of the time in local elections, but as the positions get higher up in the political food chain, I am more likely to vote for the Democrats. I supported Ford in 1976, but for 29 years now, I have voted for the Democrat for president every time.

Finally, I'll say that while you might be attempting to convince us lefties to not trust in our party so much, I don't believe you are plugging the GOP. I can tell you simply don't care much for politicians, which is a quality I find admirable. I have to say that my leftist fervor is primarily fueled by Bush and his administration, a number of GOP leaders, and by the influence of fundamentalist religion on the party... not necessarily by the Republican party itself. The party includes a lot of mainstream voters and some leaders who do not approve of Bush's tactics and/or undue religious influence in the party.

I continue to examine both parties and their platforms, and I keep reaching the same conclusions. When it gets down to it, the Democrats are simply more in line with what I personally believe.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

My comment about the sky falling was particularly directed at Lizzy. Frankly, the Democrats need a better House Minority Leader than Nancy Pelosi, because her stance on the Kelo decision could turn into a serious liability. How often have you seen the NAACP and the Republicans agree on anything major? And yet, she took the opposite stance. Between that and Durbin's comments on American soldiers serving abroad, as well as Dean and his case of chronic foot-in-mouth disease, I don't think the Republicans will have nearly as difficult a time galvanizing their core supporters as you may believe. I've posted more extensively on Pelosi and Dean on my blog, as well as another issue that, thusfar, has flown under the radar. And I apologize in advance for the conservative slant of the editorial to which I linked. I only included it because, regardless of that fact, it made some valid points.

4:43 AM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

I'd flame back, but my brain hurts. It must be my extreme intellectual laziness kicking in.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

The more prominent GOP leaders who publicly differ with Bush, the more difficult it will be galvanize that party's voters. A few examples are Senators Hagel, Dewine and Voinovich on various issues, and now Frist on stem-cell research. There are others, such as Olympia Snow and Lincoln Chaffee. There are other Senators who might also buck Bush in some areas. The "Freedom Fries" fellow in Congress (along with Rep. Paul, from Texas) is even calling for an end to the war in Iraq. If we add all of THAT to a developing crack between the "religious right" and the mainstream voters/leaders of the GOP, I think galvanizing that party will be an extremely difficult task. I believe the Democrats will have a much more united front than the GOP during the next several years.

To reiterate, I continue to examine both parties and their platforms, and I keep reaching the same conclusions. When it gets down to it, the Democrats are simply more in line with what I personally believe.

Someone recommended I read "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America " by Christine Todd Whitman. It supposedly provides a compelling case for moderation, particularly within her own party.

5:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home