How the GOP can hasten its race to irrelevancy and Confederacy
Posted by James McPherson on February 11, 2009
Some influential conservatives have promised to campaign against the three moderate Senate Republicans who supported the economic stimulus bill. As a liberal, I hope they keep their promise, and that their efforts succeed. Though it’s hard to imagine many ways that Republicans can make themselves even less relevant in national politics than they are now, this would be one of them.
Conservatives have long complained about the three Senators, Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter and Maine’s two Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. In fact, the three are remnants of a moderate Republican Northeastern base which, as I’ve written elsewhere, began to lose influence in 1964.
The recent defeat of Connecticut Rep. Christopher Shays ended GOP representation from the New England states complete in the House of Representatives. And if the conservatives have their way, defeating the moderate Senators in future Republican primaries, the primary winners will almost certainly become general election losers.
The Democratic Party has become too conservative, in my view. But that move to a center-right position has captured the very middle-of-the road voters that Karl Rovian Republicans have abandoned in their efforts to appeal to what they mistakenly viewed as a growing conservative base.
As some Republicans, including Virginia Rep. Tom Davis and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have pointed out, the result is that the GOP is on the verge of becoming a “regional party” based in the old Confederacy. The irony is notable in a year in which we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abe Lincoln’s birth, especially for those of us who are fans of Lincoln but not of the party that has abandoned his ideals.