I've been saying this for over a year now, that the extremists on the right were destroying the Republican party. Naturally, with me writing for a site so closely associated with a conservative blog right next door, this opinion has been periodically vilified by that blog's authors and readers who periodically trolled the Wizbang Blue comment threads.
I have to admit... seeing them in full-blown denial was not something I fought against. Right wing bloggers who swung hard against GOP party moderates like McCain and Romney served the left well -- why would any lefty want to shut that down? But now that GOP moderates are openly discussing the social conservative extremism and the drag its been in the 2006 and 20087 election it's becoming politically acceptable in this neighborhood to point this out.
Anti-abortion extremists played a large role in the selection of Sarah Palin as GOP VP nominee -- and that one act may well have lost the election for the Republicans. Today the same anti-abortion extremists are behind "Team Sarah" and the continued push to promote Palin as a 2012 candidate. I'm 100% behind them - nothing would insure Obama's re-election more than having Sarah Palin as the opposing candidate.
And now that the apparent is becoming the obvious, even Republicans are speaking openly of the extent to which social conservatives have trashed the Republican brand.
As a progressive it's my hope that the extremists will maintain their extreme positions and in turn rebel against the GOP reformers. Nothing would please me more than seeing a full-blown civil war take place within the Republican party.
Meanwhile, Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post observes:
As expected, the collapse of the Republican brand in the 2006 and 2008 elections has brought out any number of theorists from the woodwork -- offering their take on the proper prescription to heal what ails the GOP.
For the most part, we tend to ignore these amateur (and even some professional) analysts as they usually are pushing either a decidedly transparent personal or ideological agenda.
Not so, Tom Davis who left his northern Virginia seat in 2008 after weighing and ultimately deciding against a run for the seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner (R).
Davis is, without question, a fiscal conservative and socially moderate, but he is, also, one of the brightest strategic minds in the GOP. Need proof? When Davis chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2000 and 2002, House Republicans netted six seats.
Davis penned an essay on the subject titled "The Way Back", which Cillizza references:
Davis convincingly make the case that the alleged takeover of the party by social conservatives has worked to its electoral detriment.
"We talked to ourselves and not to voters. We became more concerned with stem cell policy than economic policy, and with prayer in schools rather than balance in our public budgets and priorities. Not so long ago, it was easy to paint the Democrats as the party of extremists. Now, they say we're extremists, and voters agree."
While Davis may be overstating the case slightly, he makes a compelling argument that voter perceptions of the two parties have shifted in a negative way for Republicans as a result of the focus by some of the most vocal elements of the party on gay rights, abortion and other social issues.
With Republicans regarded as "far out" on social issues, President-elect Barack Obama was able to co-opt the vast middle with a message of moderation on social issues and, with that hurdle cleared, speak to that critical voting bloc on the economic issues on which the election pivoted.
Davis also specifically points at immigration issue as a milestone in the GOP loss of favor in the U.S.; an issue the
social conservatives Republicans and their mouthpieces hit hard on throughout late 2007 and into 2008.
Davis's other major indictment of the GOP? The wholesale rejection of attempts to court black and Hispanic voters. "We've long-since given up on the African-American vote," he writes. "We're forfeiting the Hispanic vote with unwarranted and unsavory vitriol against immigrants."
Davis has a high-profile supporter in this point -- President George W. Bush. At a press conference on Monday, Bush said that for the GOP to make a comeback its "message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party. ... If the image is we don't like immigrants, then there's probably somebody else out there saying, well, if they don't like the immigrants, they probably don't like me, as well."
Examples abound across the blogosphere of social conservatives who railed at Bush for taking that stance, and once again I offer no resistance to their railings. I'll hand them all the shovels they need to continue digging that hole...
And regarding those same social conservatives who insist that the GOP become even more "Reagan-Conservative" Cillizza writes:
As for those who insist that the Republican party has to return to its conservative roots, Davis argues that such a statement ignores electoral reality. "I've heard much talk of going back to our conservative roots, to the issues that helped us win in 1980 and 1994," writes Davis. "That issue matrix has changed so much as to be nearly unrecognizable now."
The conservative blogosphere has deep social conservatives roots. Rooting out that viewpoint as the prominent and loudest voice is step one to rebuilding the Republican Party...
....but don't tell them, whatever you do. The louder that the hard-core social conservative asses bellow and bray the better our chances are in the 2010 election.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!