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I was struck by that comment by Arlen Specter. The fact is that moderate republicans have had opportunity to rebell time and time again and, typically, have not done so. I think it was this lack of nerve or confidence which has lead, since the time of Reagan, to the total purge of moderate Republicans outside of the state of Maine.

I said it started with Reagan, but Reagan was a big tent guy. He moved the party right, but brought along the moderates with him. Reagan's popularity lead to the huge growth of the Republican party in the 80s.  

But the thing is, though Reagan was popular enough to win 49 states in 1984, The right wing of the Republican party was never so popular. A large segment of the population are not especially ideological, and will vote for candidates based on the "feel" they get from them, or based on current economic conditions.  So the Republican party was on a roll and the moderates went along, not challenging the pro-life stance, the removal of the Equal Rights Amendment from the Republican Platform (it is hard to immagine but The Republicans supported ERA from 1944-1980.

Northeast Republicans never agreed with this rightwing social agenda, or with the radical anti environmentalism, or with the jingoistic foreign policy. Indeed many in the "Rockefeller" wing did not buy into the attempt right wing economics--Even the elder Bush called trickle down theory"economic voodoo". in 1976.

Actually now that I think of it, 1976 may have been the real starting point of the decline of the moderates. It was the one time there was an actual fight for the party, with Ford being the "moderate" choice. But even here, there was something odd. Prior to Reagan's challenge, no one would have called into question Gerald Ford's conservatism.

But the moderates stayed quiet after that. They did not challenge the dominant conservative ideology. Except for John Anderson in 1980 they did not put up their own candidates for president. They did not challenge the party platform.  They let the national party define itself, even though there were huge numbers of Republicans who felt nothing more than aversion to the far right agenda (I speak mainly of the northeast, but I think this was also found in my state of Iowa  and on the west coast). True, they may have lost the fight. Probably they WOULD have lost the fight. But by not doing anything, by just going with the flow, they guaranteed their loss.

Originally posted to max stirner on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 05:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  republicans are the weakest link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dark daze, cyeko

    good bye.

    •  Hate to tell you this... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lostboyjim

      but there are really only two choices. After Carter and Ford, they could have put up an articulate circus clown and would have won.

      It's a coke-pepsi thing. When coke screws up really badly, you go to pepsi. When pepsi screws up, it's back to coke. It's all centrists can do.

      Centrists realize that they're all lying, snakes in the grass, interested only in getting elected. We take all of the promises with a grain of salt. They all say they love god and their families, yet look how they actually are. George talked to god, and asked lawyers if torture was right or wrong. Bill Clinton said he was for working Americans, and pushed NAFTA. We know NAFTA was used to screw American workers, so Obama said he'd scrap it. and now, we know better about that.

      It's why Specter is switching parties. Not because of any allegiance to ideology, but the voting pattern of the electorate. It's not a dedication to Coke, but Coke is on the outs in the mainstream.

      You can call them irrelevant, dead, whatever you want to call them. They said the same things about Democrats  when they gained power.

      And all along, since Ford, it's all going downhill. They're all sell outs, interested only in staying in power. One of our enemies has grown incredibly strong, and we just keep shrinking. Disparity of wealth, woefully inadequate education, infrastructure falling apart, manufacturing base wiped out, making our 'energy dependence' pale in comparison.

      But it's all the republican's fault. Like I have to tell my conservative friend, it's all the Democrat's fault. While you fight amongst yourselves, our jobs and our country have been sold off piecemeal. But you'd rather sling mud at the other side, than ALL the politicians who've collectively screwed you.

  •  At least one (0+ / 0-)

    voice out here that sees beyond the hype.

    Remember everything I've told you... everything in its own time.

    by ElizabethRoss on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:12:20 AM PDT

  •  Chalk it up to Reich Wing Radio = conservative (4+ / 0-)

    The talking heads have redefined and cheapened what "conservative" means.  Further, their loyal listeners have had thousands of hours of this poison pumped into their heads for 25 years.  They have become the activists.

    The Republican moderates have been too timid to fight back because they are authoritarians at heart.  Once the party leadership began slipping hard right, the moderates simply did not have it in them, culturally, to put up a street fight for the party.

    www.legalwikipro.com Check it out.

    by briefer on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:16:49 AM PDT

  •  I agree but the left is smarter than be herd like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Julia Grey, Kimball Cross, briefer

    a goat like GOP'ers did. However, I hope we have turn the page and will continue to build our party via the grassroots effort. That is what got us here and I hope we don't lose sight of that. Being complacent and leaving our ideology in the hands of the National Party to define us is not acceptable. Your diary is spot on!

    ...We have many issues that bind us together than separates us!

    by ThisIsMyTime on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:17:12 AM PDT

  •  I think there were more attempts... (5+ / 0-)

    by moderates then you give them credit for.  I believe the Republicans for Choice caused a stir on the convention floor one year, and there's Christine Whitman's It's My Party, Too that I can think of.

    I think they tried, they just lost.  You can't get compromise from fundamentalists.

    oh this is just emo

    by gooners on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:22:00 AM PDT

  •  how many republicans have actually read... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW

    the republican platform? At the national level? state level? or even county level.  
    For example, here in Aiken Co.,SC, the county republican party platform includes the following:

    The following resolution, # 17 of 17, was passed at the Aiken County Republican Party County Convention, held on April 19, 2007

    1. A RESOLUTION REGARDING MODELS OF ORIGIN

    WHEREAS there is more than one model of origin; and
    WHEREAS there is abundant evidence in nature of intelligent design; and
    WHEREAS the theory of scientific evolution is the only accepted curriculum on origins currently being taught in public schools;
    NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Aiken County Republican Party supports the presentation of all models of origin in South Carolina’s public schools.

    Even though this is the "bible belt" I think it would surprise conservatives here to see that resolution.

  •  Really, Specter left the Democrats, (0+ / 0-)

    joined the Republicans, left the Republicans, re-joins the Democrats. He has rebelled twice, this last time giving little notice. (Pres Obama just learned yesterday!, could that be?)

    Sen Specter moves like the ebb and flow of the tide and really has no fixed position. The quintessential politician. What is good for Arlen Specter is good for the country.

  •  Sold their "soul" to the religious right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gooners

    While it garnered some early support, it was unsustainable.  And now they (along with Club for Growth) have stepped into the zombie body of the GOP and are attempting to make it their party.  Ultimately these two factions will be incompatible and will become engaged in a power struggle.  That's when they will cease to be.

    No more "Goldwater Republicans"

    •  Big-Business Republicans could never get to 50% (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, D in Northern Virginia

      (by themselves) so they used a lot of racism & bigotry of all kinds to confuse the American people. They also confused by creating/promoting boogie-men (e.g. Communism).

      When these things began to fade in effectiveness, they turned to the Jesus Freaks. That was really a pact with the devil, because the Falwell-Robertson wing of the party started enforcing greater & greater ideological purity.

      Now they are so holier-than-thou that nobody wants to be a Republican {:-0).

  •  The phrase "moderate Republican" (0+ / 0-)

    has become an oxymoron.

    Watch what you say, they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, Oh fanatical criminal...

    by minerva1157 on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:46:12 AM PDT

  •  I think you are overestimating Reagan voters (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rsie, D in Northern Virginia

    They were greedy, selfish people who did not care about the deficit, growing inequality, the poor, the demise of labor, an insane arms race, illegal invasions and contras, the destruction of the environment.

    OK, so they weren't wacko about abortion and gay marriage, but gay marriage was not really on the table.  

    Not much difference between Reagan voters and Bush/McCain voters.  Only difference is that they can finally see that Reaganism/Bushism/McCainism/Palinism does not work and they got screwed by their own stupidity. That is why some of them switched to Dems.  Plus the demographic trends and younger voters made a big difference.

    •  Reagan Democrats ... (0+ / 0-)

      Were fooled on a wholesale level. Let's hope this doesn't happen again.

      The Republican brand: "Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich"

      by D in Northern Virginia on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 07:29:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think that is right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rmx2630

      At the time I thougth anyone who voted for Reagan was crazy. but I remember talking to someone otherwise normal but apolitical who was amazed i voted for Mondale-and, admit it, he is not the most exciting card in the deck (I wonder how well Mario Cuomo would have done).
      Many people are not driven by ideology but by a general sense of how the country is going. Reagan was a good politician, he made people feel good, made people think America was 'strong", and was able to lower inflation--people see lower prices, the think he is doing something right.

      •  I agree with you, for the most part (0+ / 0-)

        It seems to me that most Americans just aren't that political. Perhaps this is because they know so little history and what little they do know is often distorted.  Or perhaps they are just very greedy and want to avoid examining the morality of their pursuit of wealth and power.

        However, I don't agree that Reagan was "able to lower inflation".  Paul Volker was the person who crushed the inflationary spiral that began in the 70s.  And he did it in spite of Reagan's inflationary fiscal policies.  To quote Dick Cheney - "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter".

        Patriotism is the conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it. - George Bernard Shaw

        by rmx2630 on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 10:01:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Specter's point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, FishOutofWater

    Is that the Club for Growth rules the Republican party. Not Focus on the Family. The only thing the GOP stands for, in the end, is enriching billionaires. Abortion and gay marriage are paid lip service as a means to the end of enriching billionaires.

    It's worth remembering, because billionaires don't need to do well in polls. They can find a couple of wedge issues, a few willing liars to run for office, and put together a new coalition.

    Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

    by blue aardvark on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 06:53:25 AM PDT

    •  The Focus on the Family types notice this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, blue aardvark

      They know that they have gotten very little out of their support over the years. A few judges (for sure). But they know that they have lost the culture wars...

      That is why the Rick Warren types are trying to carve out a niche --- to play ball with the Democrats.

      •  We should encourage that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        Poor southern whites were an important part of FDR's coalition. Economically, they are natural progressives or liberals. If we can split some of them off the GOP isn't even a Southern regional party any longer, and the billionaires will have to start pretty much from scratch.

        Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

        by blue aardvark on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 07:28:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This got me thinking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    D in Northern Virginia

    I said it started with Reagan, but Reagan was a big tent guy. He moved the party right, but brought along the moderates with him. Reagan's popularity lead to the huge growth of the Republican party in the 80s.  

    But the thing is, though Reagan was popular enough to win 49 states in 1984, The right wing of the Republican party was never so popular. A large segment of the population are not especially ideological, and will vote for candidates based on the "feel" they get from them, or based on current economic conditions.  So the Republican party was on a roll and the moderates went along, not challenging the pro-life stance, the removal of the Equal Rights Amendment from the Republican Platform (it is hard to immagine but The Republicans supported ERA from 1944-1980.

    I really like you claim that a lot of voters in 1980 weren't really "Republicans" they simply liked REAGAN.  And they they just kept voting for him and his VP for 12 years.

    I think that we may well be in a similar situation now with Obama.  Everyone really likes him.  He's a good politician, a great speaker; people LIKE HIM.  But let's not confuse a 60% approval rating for him, with people suddenly truly and honestly switching parties. (And let's face it, lining him up next to McCain in a debate is just a slaughter waiting to happen).  But, this isn't some Rovian "permanent majority", in fact I fear that our majority will last exactly as long as Obama leads us, OR until the next graceful, well-spoken Republican comes along to sudden convince people they are Republicans.

    I don't know if people agree with the above, but as a thought game, consider: IF THIS IS TRUE, WHAT SHOULD OUR RESPONSE BE?  Should we go gung-ho and get as much of an agenda shoved though Congress in 2 years, before the inevitable backlash?  Or should we try to slowly convince this Obama voters that they really are Democrats.  If that is even possible.  

    Hey, you guys lost. It's supposed to taste like a s**t taco. -- Jon Stewart

    by lostboyjim on Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 07:19:09 AM PDT

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