Monday, June 16, 2014

GOP Should Remember Whigs Before Turning on Turn Signal

As I read some of the analysis of Eric Cantor’s loss in Virginia, I hear a theme that the Republican Party may be ready to make a right turn again. 

My advice to the Grand Old Party would be to turn right, but turn right only knowing what it means.  Turning to the right's going to leave behind a lot of moderates.  Maybe even enough moderates to cause a political shift of epic proportions.

It's not unprecedented.  At one point in history, Democrats had the Whigs to be worried about.  The Whigs actually elected two Presidents (William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor) and counted among its membership memorable politicians like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

For the Whigs (originally born out of opposition to Andrew Jackson), the question of slavery splintered the party.  The stronger faction of the party which was more based in the northern states and was more anti-slavery became what we now know as the Republican Party, and the others dissolved away, quit politics, or tried to find other places to hang their hats politically.  

Some Whigs tried to reinvent themselves as a part of the American Party and even nominated former Whig Veep turned President, Millard Fillmore, for President.  They carried one state in 1856, Maryland.  The Whigs threw their weight behind John Bell in 1860 for President before dissolving.  A party that had been robust in 1852 and in the White House found itself dissolved by 1860.

Social issues now are threatening to pull the GOP apart.  While politics have changed since 1860, the Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party is clearly leaving room for a moderate party that could break off and form a new coalition all its own. That would kill the Republican Party as we know it. The GOP will be marginalized in the national debate. Eventually, it will go the way of the dodo bird.

I’m not saying that it is going to happen now or in 2016, but the tea leaves are there. It’s very real. The Republican Party is leaving true Republicans behind as it moves further and further right.  For moderates, it's a question of finding a home.  They clearly don't feel like Democrats, but they can't claim to be Republicans any longer.

There are many choices for those Republicans.  They can band together and start a new party.  That would be very difficult, but it wouldn't be unprecedented.  Third-parties have inherent disadvantages, and I can't imagine Republicans will go quietly.  They can join the Libertarians.  That's certainly an option some have taken.  I'll advocate for a third option.

Well, I'm here to say that there's no need for a moderate party...come on over to the Democratic Party.  We know how to have a good old knock down drag out and still all get along.  Our members go from Joe Donnelly to Nancy Pelosi and everything in between.  There's room over here for you, too.  I may not agree with everything you agree with, but I'm willing to bet we agree on more than we disagree.  

Soon, GOP is going to be the home for the Christian right, the climate-change doubters, the Bible thumpers, and the isolationists. They will tell you that Ted Cruz has a chance in a national election and make Rick Santorum start to look like a liberal. They will be like a hunk of cheese applied to the digestive system of Congress.

The far right won't see it coming, but a moderate tide is building from the left and from the middle.  It's about to set things right in Washington.

It’s coming. Mark the tape.


Joel Dent said...

One can only hope. We cOuld use some of those moderate voters to turn Indiana blue. I'm I'm the bastion of Indianapolis, but the rest of the state would benefit greatly from a blue state congress and governor.

E David Gallermo said...

Some of them already have: Michael Forbes, Jim Jeffords, Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, Gabrielle Giffords, Elizabeth Warren. All of them started out as Republicans. All of them have been welcomed under the big tent.

E David Gallermo said...
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