Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Looking For Moderate Republicans

There’s another commentary from a conservative today which is worth paying attention to, even if I don’t agree with every word. Morton Kondracke asks, "Can GOP Moderates Exert Power in Party Dominated by Right?"

Kondracke argues that moderate Republicans should support Bill Frist against attacks from the far right for supporting stem cell research and should support emergency contraception. He questions whether moderate Republicans will support civil unions and "resist the party’s reliance on gay-bashing to win elections." He is similarly right on intelligent design:

Someone in the GOP ought to tell Bush that “intelligent design” is not a true
scientific theory on a par with evolution. And moderates need to fight at the
state level to prevent “ID” from being required teaching in biology classes.

Kondracke is overly concerned with the influence of the far left, but does concede that there are moderate forces in the Democratic Party. In contast, there are no comparable organizations to the DLC to promote the views of moderate Republicans. His argument here would have sounded even more sensible if he hadn't included John McCain as a moderate.

There is no real equivalent in the GOP that can serve as an organizational
and intellectual base for moderate candidates like former New York Mayor Rudy
Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

Moderate groups like the Republican Main Street Partnership are useful,
but they are not powerful, and moderate office holders are regularly targeted
for defeat by arch-conservatives from the Club for Growth, the Free Congress
Foundation and the religious right.

Occasionally, a Republican moderate will speak out in a provocative
op-ed, as when former Sen. John Danforth (Mo.) charged that "Republicans have
transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians."

Kondracke realizes that the far right is on the wrong side of many issues. He notes that "polls show that two-thirds of the electorate wants Roe to remain the law of the land" and fears the consequences of a Supreme Court nominee who might vote to overturn Row v. Wade. He also cites other polling results:
A new Pew poll shows that the public supports embryonic stem-cell research
by 57 percent to 30 percent, and that 53 percent favors allowing gays to enter
legal arrangements giving them the same rights as married couples.

There is no new polling on contraception, but I would be shocked if its
availability were not overwhelmingly supported by the public.

Kondracke notes how the influence of the religious right led to Romney and Pataki’s vetos of bills to make emergency contraception more easily available.

For the good of the country I hope that moderate Republicans can take back control of their party. At present I see our best hope for the socially liberal views expressed by Kondracke, as well as a sensible economic policy and strong but rational defense, to come from the Democratic Party. The views of the far left which Kondracke fears represent a small miniorty, even if their views are amplified in the blogosphere. While extremists represent a small percentage of Democrats, they are firmly in control of the GOP.


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