I’m starting to wonder if the reality I live in is the same that “Republicans” like Colin Powell live in. Powell states
“I believe we need a strong Republican Party that is not just anchored in the base but has built on the base to include more individuals,” Powell said. “If we don’t reach out more, the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base. You can only do two things with a base. You can sit on it and watch the world go by, or you can build on the base.”
First off why should the Republicans take advice from a “Republican” who endorsed the most liberal Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale? Even Jimmy Carter portrayed himself as a conservative in the ‘76 election. “He said the reason he endorsed Barack Obama for president last fall—a decision that prompted a wave of conservative discontent with Powell—was he believed Obama was “best-qualified” to lead.” Okay. That makes someone an independent; party people vote for Mondale, Dukakis, and Clinton twice not because they are “the best qualified to lead” but because they are Democrats and Democrats vote for Democrats. I know because I used to be one and I voted for each one of those Democratic candidates. Regrets, I have a few…
Imagine if all Republicans voted like Colin Powell last November, all merrily voting for the “best qualified” to lead. The Party would be dead; after all what need would there be for one when the other team is better? And yet Powell has the audacity to blame a “narrow base” (read Conservatives), Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney for the troubles of the party.
The Republican party is in dire straits because of “leaders” like Colin Powell and the other RINOs and so-called “centerists”. These are the people who sold-out our party’s principles during Bush II’s term – who pushed for big government, higher deficits, and took the power out of the hands of the People and handed it to federal and state agencies. That’s not Republicanism – that’s what Democrats do!
Aside from Iraq, the GWOT, and judicial appointments, the Republican party under Bush II wasn’t very Republican at all; it was Democrat-lite. The base realized this and agitated against it but the party leadership ignored the base – and the Republican base did what the Democrat base did during the Clinton years. It stayed home and the party got walloped.
Today the bond between the Republican base and party leaders is gone. It doesn’t exist. The base is adrift, attending TEA parties and rubbing shoulders with libertarians and conservative Democrats. Cheney and Limbaugh recognize this – but all the GOP politicians in Washington seemingly don’t have a clue – and that especially goes for Michael Steele.
When the Democrats were in the wilderness during the Contract for America and early years of the Bush II admin, their party leader Terry McAuliffe was just as clueless about the problems besetting the Democrats. There were calls for the party to become centerist, more Republican-lite in order to win elections. But what saved the party and laid the foundations for its dominance today was one man: Howard Dean.
Howard Dean inspired the hard-left at the Democratic base with his opposition to the Iraq war and his support for other progressive causes like gay marriage and universal health care. His Wikipedia entry notes “By challenging the war in Iraq at a time when mainstream Democratic leaders were either neutral or cautiously supportive, Dean positioned himself to appeal to his party’s activist base… His message resonated among frustrated Democratic primary voters who felt that their party hadn’t done enough to oppose the policies of the Republicans.”
Dean’s meteoric rise scared the pants off the Democratic establishment in Washington. In Nov 2003 he received the endorsements of two influential unions. The next month he was endorsed by Al Gore. Dean was a juggernaut going into the primary season, but his early flameout allowed the centerists to reassert themselves – which they did. They were soundly beaten the following November.
Their loss forced Terry McAullife to fall on his sword, and the base replaced him with Dean. With the base solidly behind Dean, it was able to field candidates that the base supported. Conservatives like Zoell Miller were shown the door. In their place were leftists like Barack Obama. In 2006 the Democrats retook congress. In 2008 centerist candidates like John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were pushed aside for the inspirational figure of Obama and his hard-core liberal policies. The centerists ended up going along for the ride when Obama and his agenda was swept into office last November. His election was due not to “inclusiveness of the party” but to a base energized by his policies.
Unfortunately it is a history that “Republicans” like Colin Powell haven’t read, and until they do the party is doomed. It may eke out a governorship here or there, and might even gain a few seats in the House and Senate as the Democrats overextend themselves. But the party will not return to power until it learns from history.
It is not time for the GOP to become inclusive. It is time for the GOP to reevaluate its principles. That will come from the base, and will be channeled by a man like Howard Dean – not by the centerists like Colin Powell. Powell should leave the party officially; by endorsing Obama he’s already left it in spirit.