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October 15, 2009

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Brian

Let the purge of moderate Republicans continue!

Brian

Ultimately, I think the purge of moderates is killing the GOP. Look at here in the northeast which is mostly centrist to moderate-left. I believe there are only one or two Republican House members in NYS and zero from New England (out of several dozen). The region has three Republican US senators (out of 14), two of whom are stubbornly independent (Snowe and Collins from Maine) and only one of whom is somewhat conservative (NH's Gregg but even he is a more cerebral conservative than an angry faux-populist). I believe those running for national office have suffered from guilt by association with the Tom Delays and Tom Coburns of the national party.

The reason I think it's that, rather than lack of ideological puritanism, is a simple comparison. Look at how Republicans have been doing lately in the northeast at the STATE level. Moderate GOP governors like Jodi Rell in CT and Jim Douglas in VT are fairly popular and win re-election without a huge amount of trouble. Even George Pataki, who was liberal by national GOP standards, was easily re-elected twice while the purist John Faso was crushed. Most acknowledge that the moderate Rudy Giuliani has a much better chance of beating whomever the Democrat is than the more ideologically "pure" Rick Lazio. Politicians like Rell, Douglas and Pataki do/did not have the taint of being associated with the GOP fringe that many Americans, including some Republicans, find distasteful.

Brian

I don't think this purification is necessarily a horrible thing for the nation. Personally, I'd like to see the increasing influence of smaller, more ideological parties (the Greens being one) to balance out the crushing power of principle-free, corporate-owned parties like the GOP and Dems. But this would require democratic (lowercase d) electoral reform to achieve.

Bob Conner

Sorry, I don't buy it. The NYS Republican Party has spent years following your advice and moving left, and is on life support. I don't follow right-wing orthodoxy on everything, e.g. on income taxes, where I think Republicans have been too dogmatic. But the party can't succeed in New York or anywhere else by saying me-too to Democratic-liberal social and fiscal policies.

Brian

Your criticism of the candidates like Scozzafava has been primarily based on their views on social issues, not fiscal ones. But the fact is that NYS as a whole (and New England) is not nearly as socially conservative as you. That's why moderate Republicans get elected to state offices like governorships and the socially conservative purists you prefer do not.

If Hoffman outpolls Scozzafava in the general election, then that might give your contention a little more credence.

Brian

Given the increasing Democratic registration advantage, it's a miracle the Republicans held out as long as they did. Despite a 5-3 disadvantage compared to Democrats, they held the both governorship and senate for more of the last half century than the Democrats, including nearly all of the last 15 years. The moderate Republicans would argue that if they hadn't moved toward the center, they would be completely irrelevant in the state like they are in, say, Massachussetts.

Bob Conner

Didn't Mass. just have a Republican governor who got that health-insurance plan passed you don't like?
In NY, I don't think social conservatism is the cause of GOP decline. It's not why Faso lost, for example. And by going along with the public-employee unions and other special interests demanding more, more, more, NY GOP shares responsibility for the state's fiscal woes, which I do think is a real issue. As Reagan and Thatcher showed, the way to win is to change the terms of the conversation, change the political culture. Endlessly accommodating it has not helped Republicans in New York.

Brian

"Didn't Mass. just have a Republican governor who got that health-insurance plan passed you don't like?"

Yes. So what? I didn't care for Romney, but he was a Republican who managed to win somewhat comfortably in a state that's probably even more Democratic than NYS.

At the end of the day, NYS is too liberal for the social conservativism you espouse to be a winner at the state level. A number of those evil moderate Republicans have been elected to statewide office in recent years but can you name one hard social conservative that's done so?

Bob Conner

I do think New York is too socially liberal, especially on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Accordingly, like President Obama on other issues, I favor changing the status quo.

Bob Conner

The last Republican presidential candidate to carry New York, on an absolutely anti-abortion platform, was (the formerly pro-choice) Ronald Reagan. Obviously that issue isn't what won the state for him, but it didn't stop him, either. Public opinion nationally has been getting more pro-life in recent years, and, to steal a phrase from the formerly pro-life Jesse Jackson, I keep hope alive that even in this NYC-media-dominated state cracks will spread in the pro-choice monolith.

Brian

Sorry Bob, I don't buy it. If your criticism is valid, that the state GOP has been hurt by association with fiscal laxism, then I fail to see how the antidote is social conservativism.

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This blog is by Bob (Robert C.) Conner, a longtime journalist and author of the 2018 novel "The Last Circle of Ulysses Grant" published by Square Circle Press, and a 2013 biography "General Gordon Granger" published by Casemate. He is currently writing a biography of the Kansas abolitionist Col. James Montgomery. His Civil War blog can be found at robertcconnerauthor.blogspot.com
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