Monday, November 14, 2005

Republican Tent Divided

Alan Ehrenhalt, writing in the New York Times yesterday (free registration required), poses an interesting theory regarding America’s Republican Party.

We Canadian conservatives, of course, often point to the Republicans as a successful conservative entity that, unlike our Conservatives up here, can put together majority coalitions and win elections.

But Ehrenhalt, says the Republicans are actually weaker than they appear. In fact, he calls the Republicans a “hyper-extended family” whose members – right-wing Christians, libertarians, suburban businessmen – have very little in common.

Ronald Reagan was able to unify these diverse groups because they all agreed on the need to fight communism.

But when communism collapsed so did Republican unity.

When the Democrats are able to capitalize on these Republican rifts, they win, as Bill Clinton did when he won back-to-back elections starting in 1992.

The emergence of the terrorist threat, says Ehrenhalt, reunited the Republicans and helped them win in 2004, but that glue he argues is also beginning to weaken, hence the recent Democratic victories last week.

So you see, even the mighty Republicans have problems too. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the political fence.


Anonymous said...

As a Republican, few things annoy me more than the New York Times analyzing the Republican party. Yes, the RNC is a widely varied group of people and ideologies, but to say we are weakened as of late due to Democrats maintaining two Governor's seats is absurd. The Dems actually lost one office (Lieu. Gov. of Virginia) that they held. This suggests no shift in the Republican party or even the nation.
But the real problem is that the Times and other media outlets want to paint Republicans with one brush- far religious right extremist- and then decry our diversity. Only one can be a weakness.
My own disappointment with the Republican party is that, at the moment, it is not really lead by any true conservatives. This is one way in which the CPC has us "beat" and inspires me as a conservative first and Republican second; that party has a real conservative at its helm.

Mitch said...


That is true, however - one thing they can do which the CPC never understands - is that they win elections on conservative platforms.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

Actually the difference in success is representative of the difference in cultures. Canada is considerably more liberal than the United States. For starters the Democrats won most of the border states and were strongest in urban areas. Canada is more urban than the United States so that is another thing the favours the Liberals over the Conservatives. I would argue the Conservatives can win if they stuck only to economic policies, while were left wing on social issues. Mike Harris stuck to conservative principles, but only on economic issues. He never talked about re-criminalizing Abortion, using the notwithstanding clause frequently. Those are the issues more than economic ones that scare people away from the Conservatives. Even many people who voted for Mike Harris vote Liberal federally because they cannot stand their social conservatism. More often than not in Canada social conservatives and fiscal conservatives are different people so trying to run on both is doomed to fail.