Skip to comments.Whitman: A prescription for the GOP
Posted on 11/18/2008 9:07:26 PM PST by Coleus
FOUR YEARS AGO, in the week after the 2004 presidential election, we were working furiously to put the finishing touches on the book we co-authored, "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America." Our central thesis was simple: The Republican Party had been taken hostage by "social fundamentalists," the people who base their votes on such social issues as abortion, gay rights and stem cell research. Unless the GOP freed itself from their grip, we argued, it would so alienate itself from the broad center of the American electorate that it would become increasingly marginalized and find itself out of power.
At the time, this idea was roundly attacked by many who were convinced that holding on to the "base" at all costs was the way to go. A former speechwriter for President Bush, Matthew Scully, who went on to work for the McCain campaign this year, called the book "airy blather" and said its argument fell somewhere between "insufferable snobbery" and "complete cluelessness." Gary Bauer suggested that the book sounded as if it came from a "Michael Moore radical." National Review said its warnings were, "at best, counterintuitive," and Ann Coulter said the book was "based on conventional wisdom that is now known to be false." What a difference four years makes and the data show it.
Loss of moderates
While a host of issues was at play in this election, the primary reason John McCain lost was the substantial erosion of support from self-identified moderates compared with four years ago. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry held just a nine-percentage-point margin among moderate voters over President Bush. This year, the spread between Barack Obama and McCain was 21 points among this group. The net difference between the two elections is a deficit of nearly 6.4 million moderate votes for the Republicans in 2008.
In seven of the nine states that switched this year from Republican to Democratic, Obama's vote total exceeded the total won by President Bush four years ago. So even if McCain had equaled the president's numbers from 2004 (and he did not), he still would have lost in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia (81 total electoral votes) and lost the election. McCain didn't lose those states because he failed to hold the base. He lost them because Obama broadened his base. Nor did the Republican ticket lose because "values voters" stayed home. On the contrary, according to exit polls, such voters made up a larger proportion of the electorate this year than in 2004 26 percent, up from 23 percent. Extrapolating from those data, McCain actually won more votes from self-identified white evangelical/born-again voters than Bush did four years ago 1.8 million more. But that was not enough to offset the loss of so many moderates.
Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable. Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.
In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.
Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same. Christie Whitman, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2001 to 2003, is co-chair of the Republican Leadership Council. Robert M. Bostock, a freelance speechwriter, was her co-author for the book "It's My Party Too."
She is the Country Club RNC, that stands up for nothingness.
They still don't get it. It's easier to blame the "fundamentalists" than to look in the mirror for the Republicrat Not Can't.
My prescription is to kick you and your friends the hell out of the party. You’ll be welcome on the Democrat aisle but you deserve nothing more then a sooted black boot imprint on your backside.
Sure (taking advice from losers)....we get advice from Dems all the TIME!!!! /sarc
I didn’t read one word of her editorial and I know what it says.
Much like my idol Rush says, I know these people like I know every inch of my glorious naked body.
Except mine really is much more glorious than Rush’s. My brain isn’t as great as his but if this were a posedown I’d kick Rush’s butt :-)....
Let me guess:
The thesis is that conservatives should become more like libs and turn the GOP into socialism lite.
Am I right?
That’s because they are a recipe for success from the media’s standpoint. They obliterated the Republican parties they were in charge of. An uncontested ultraleft radical rodent supermajority is their goal in every state and at the federal level. They’ve accomplished the latter and now they’re going state-by-state to accomplish the former.
Liberal lite or liberal ultra lite or socialist.
Why should there be a republican party if the republican party is populated by the Whitmans and the Snowes?
They all need the same party.
Conservatives need something different.
Whitman is an idiot. She sees the facts, and reaches the wrong, opposing conclusion to the truth.
McCain was the moderate’s moderate. HE was the darling of the centrists, the man who was seriously considered (if not actually offered) a reasonable choice for Kerry’s VP slot, who was equally expected to possibly pick Lieberman (the 2000 Democrat VP pick) as his own VP.
And yet, as Whitman points out, moderates voted for the far-left liberal Obama over the centrist McCain.
This proves that “appealing to the moderates” cannot be done by actually picking a moderate. It seems moderates don’t like moderates running the country, and are drawn to candidates who have firm convictions and are well to the left OR right.
If Whitman could explain what it is about McCain that “turned off moderates”, she might actually educate herself to the truth. But it’s a lot easier for her to just assert against the facts that somehow it’s the social conservatives that are at fault.
The last Republican governor of New Jersey stubbornly holds to the outdated notion that 1+1=2. The new math says that 1-1=3. You just have to think outside the box.
This woman is under some strange delusion as McCain's campaign was about reform and ending *earmarks* and evil corrupt Wall Street, and winning in Iraq. I do not recall McCain bringing up abortion, gay rights and stem cell research. And is was not her most hated group 'social fundies' alone that passed that Prop A legislation. She did not do her homework.
AND it was liberals and high minded moderates that selected John McCain in the first place as the Republican nominee..... I think this is an underhanded slap at Sarah which high minded moderates always do. They more than any other group consider themselves above all the rest and they NEVER take responsibility for their own actions. Let her point her accusing finger as she and the rest of her ilk finally slide down their highly esteemed mount of intellectualism to the dark side.
Pay no attention to her, let her go back to her Bedminister, NJ (Rockefeller Estate) and take her daughters to the Debutante Ball's like her mother did.
Christine Todd Whitman, feel free to leave the GOP anytime. Seriously. Any time.
Whitman is the REASON the GOP is in a mess.
Whitman RINOs are the disease,
Reagan Conservatives (palin) are the cure.
No, but I do remember Barack Obama running like hell away from his own history on abortion. If the leftist position on abortion is the winner, why do democrats all lie about their actual level of support for it?
Its amusing how moderates out of office want to lecture on political matters.
The good news is this election cycle debunks their claims that elections are won or lost ‘in the middle’.
Nope. Elections are lost when one party, in 2008 the GOP, nominates a guy that couldn’t win a primary when it mattered in 2000 OR this year.
40 states have voted to ban gay marraige. Yet Witless wants us on the wrong side of that vote.
So, become democRATs, that’s what you’re saying Christine?
No thanks. It’s statist liberals like you who have ruined the GOP.
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