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August 15, 2007


Peter Beinart has a column today calling for the GOP to create their own DLC -- an institution capable of facing down the party's base and freeing the candidates from some of their more insane litmus tests.

Today's GOP needs an organization strong enough to fight the hegemony of the Iowa caucuses, where hard-right activists dominate and centrist candidates go to die. It needs think tanks that offer serious answers on global warming and universal health care, where conservative orthodoxy is increasingly detached from political reality. And it needs to open up more primary voting to independents, the people who powered John McCain's crusade against the party base in 2000.

And maybe it does! But I'm unconvinced. The Democrats took over in 2006 because the Iraq War went to hell and a few key members of the GOP went to jail. I'd like to believe that the electorate was reacting to the party's position on stem cell research and health care financing, but I don't buy it. That said, these narratives telling parties to change everything in the wake of defeat rarely tend to have much connection to the reality of the exit polls and the context of the election, so we may as well try to use this moment to push the GOP towards becoming a constructive force in American life rather than a bundle of xenophobic anxieties and class resentments. So I'm with Peter. "Serious answers on global warming and universal health care" are the Republican Party's only path back to relevance.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink


Any moderating force on the GOP is highly unlikely. The moderating force on the Democrats is money, and the need to appeal to business-oriented groups and donors. That's always going to pull Democrats right (ie, towards the center), but there's no equally cynical counterpart that's always going to be pulling Republicans to the left.

Posted by: Tony V | Aug 15, 2007 1:19:48 PM

there's no equally cynical counterpart that's always going to be pulling Republicans to the left

Except voters, of course.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 15, 2007 2:04:51 PM

Can we give them the DLC? We don'need/want it anymore.

Posted by: BillR | Aug 15, 2007 2:38:20 PM

Let's at least stipulate that the GP will need to do something to turn their ship around; but personally, I think an "RLC" is years away, if ever: like the drunks say, you have to admit there's a problem to start recovering. And too many Republicans/conservatives are in significant denial about the shape of their problem to really begin to work on fixing it. Partisan that I am, that's fine with me; it gives Democrats some necessary breathing room to get our ducks into better order and think a little harder about our own house, which, despite a lot of internal confidence, could still use some additional thought. And the likelihood of extending our gains into 2008 and back into the White House suits me just fine, too. But in the back of my mind, what I know is that the Republicans' problems are solvable, and when they figure out that they need to draw some lines, alienate some of their fringier elements while reasserting some core moderate beliefs, and actually do the same, there's every likelihood that there alternative will be formidable. Thanks goodness that ain't happening for a good five years or so. :)

Posted by: weboy | Aug 15, 2007 3:13:29 PM

Even if the GOP followed his advice and created an RLC to tone down their anti-abortion zellots etc. they still would have the immigration issue to deal with.

The GOP still thinks their nativist approach is a winner for them, even though it cost them the seat right next to the Texas/Mexico boarder. Romney and Giulliani are fighting over who is going be more Lou Dobbs; ditto for Newt.

As a Democrat, I say go ahead, we will gladly take more Hispanic votes from the GOP and put them into permanent minorities like what happened in California.

Posted by: DaveB | Aug 15, 2007 3:25:25 PM

GOP orthodoxy on global warming and universal health care isn't detatched from political reality, it's detatched from objective reality. Suggesting a think-tank would help the GOP develop solutions to these problems begs the question of whether anyone in the GOP wants to solve them, or even considers them problems.

Posted by: robsalk | Aug 15, 2007 4:49:39 PM

I agree that "Serious answers on global warming and universal health care" are important but an issue that has an uncertain future impact and an issue that has an uncertain impact on a majority of voters are most certainly not the Republican Party's "only path back to relevance." The lesson may be the opposite. Or it may suggest a different lesson to the Democratic Party, if it cares to listen.

Posted by: slickdpdx | Aug 15, 2007 7:38:35 PM

For the record, I know GOP people who aren't like the leadership who get that things like Universal Healthcare are a necessity, and not just a want in this society. However, the key elements are that they aren't running for office and therefore probably irrelevant to those GOP'ers who are.

Posted by: akaison | Aug 15, 2007 11:04:36 PM

Didn't they already try this with the Mainstreet Partnership. If things go well the Partnership will be losing half of its Senators in 2008.

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