Sunday, May 10, 2009

The two-party Republican Party is Whig-ing out

Posted by Chris Haire on Sun, May 10, 2009 at 9:41 AM

The Trans-Am. The Grand Prix. The Bonneville. They are no more. They’ve headed off to the big junk yard in the sky. And although they will be rebuilt by the master mechanic, they will not roll off the assembly line anywhere on this little hunk of rock ever again. Their days are over.

The same cannot be said of the Republican Party. Yes, the GOP took a beating in 2006 and 2008, but they’ll be back — better than ever. But first, they have to decide what they want to be, and right now, that’s yet to be decided.

In a recent commentary at CNN.com, John Feehery, a staffer for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and current president of the Feehery Group, a Washington-based advocacy firm that has represented clients including News Corp., Ford Motor Company, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, outlined his reasons for why the GOP will once again become the dominate party in American politics.

His reasons more or less boil down to this: One, the Democrats will screw up — they know it, you know, we all know it. And two, these things are cyclical — a successful party discourages dissent, it gets greedy, its members become corrupt, the shit hits the fan.

These points really can’t be argued. It’s just what happens. At least in the two-party world of American politics.

However, his final point highlights the identity crisis in the Republican Party.

Here’s what Feehery had to say:

“The Republican Party is the de facto Libertarian Party: Most people I talk to think of themselves not as Republicans or Democrats, but as libertarians. Not libertarians in the political party sense, but libertarians in a deeper philosophical sense. They tend to want government to stay out of their lives as much as possible. They tend to distrust all politicians, and when they hear someone say, ‘I am from the government, and I am here to help,’ they tend to laugh uproariously. It was Will Rogers who said, ‘I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.’ The Republican Party does best when it seeks to reform government, to lessen the power of the bureaucrat, and to fight to give more freedom to the people. When the GOP returns to that philosophical creed — which it will do in the face of the Obama administration’s vast expansion of government power — its fortunes will brighten again.”

Libertarians, eh. Well, that’s not how Mike Huckabee sees it.

According to the former Arkansas governor, preacher man, and current Fox News host, the GOP will become as “irrelevant as the Whigs” if it abandons social conservatives.

In an interview with the Visalia-Times Delta in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Huck had this to say:
“People that are social conservatives are also economic conservatives. But a lot of the economic conservatives are not social conservatives. Throw the social conservatives — the pro-life, pro-family people — overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs [the short-lived 19th century political party].”

He added, “They’ll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party ... Because the energy that is supplied for knocking on doors and working neighborhoods and getting out the vote, it comes from people who are passionate about human life and about traditional marriage. Those are the same people that believe in national security, less government, and lower taxes.”

So what’s it gonna be — the less-government-is-better libertarians, who have no problems with prostitution, drug use, and gay marriage, or the evangelical voters that have propped up the Republican Party for the past two decades, only to have their pro-life hearts broken time and time again?


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