THE HILL PUNDITS BLOG—NOVEMBER 7, 2012
Memo to the Republicans
By Peter Fenn – 11/07/12 03:52 PM ET
At my age, I have lived through, and worked on, a lot of elections. I have seen the highest highs and the lowest lows. I have celebrated when I thought I was about to cry and cried when I thought I was going to be celebrating.
And I have seen the press and the pundits declare one or the other party “dead” after an election, only for it to rise rather quickly from the ashes.
After the Lyndon Johnson landslide victory against Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Republican Party, as we knew it, was declared finished. Four years later, Richard Nixon, who was all but dead and buried after his loss to Pat Brown in 1962 for governor of California, was elected president of the United States. The Republican Party was back in full force.
After George McGovern won only one state in 1972, it was the end of the Democratic Party.
By 1974, after Watergate, the Democrats came roaring back and once again, the obituary was written for the Republicans — until Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980.
You get the picture.
As hard as it is for me to do it, rather than bask in last night’s election victory, I want to offer some advice to the Republican Party. It is time for you to get a grip. You are not finished; you are not necessarily destined to the political trash heap of history. But you are in trouble, deep trouble, unless you change.
The right-wing straightjacket, Tea Party express, does not suit you well. You have kicked away Senate seats by nominating the extreme elements of your party, in 2010 and 2012. You have created a primary election system dominated by the most outrageous in your party.
If you continue to be the anti-gay party, the anti-Hispanic party, the anti-environment/climate change party, as well as the extremist party on a woman’s right to choose, on contraception, on equal pay for equal work, you are doomed for many years to come.
You are becoming a pariah with younger voters, you have driven minorities out the door, you have relegated yourselves to the party of the angry white male. Not a good place to be in the 21st century, as angry white males are quickly becoming a smaller and smaller minority.
To my friends who are Republicans, I suggest you might want to have the battle within your party sooner rather than later with the extremist conservatives.
The train has left the station on many of these issues, and the demographics, they are a-changin’. You don’t have a lot of time to embrace moderation and truly become the Republican Party that voters used to respect and admire — a party of reasonable conservatives like Dick Lugar, Bob Bennett and, yes, the old bulls like Everett Dirksen, Howard Baker, Hugh Scott.
This is a tough battle within the Republican Party, but it is past time to reject those who blindly sign Norquist pledges on taxes, or insist on human life amendments, or deny global warming or keep on bashing Hispanics and gays. This should not be the platform of the Republican Party or in any way embraced by its leadership.
It is time for the Republican Party to change, and change fast. It would be good for you and good for the country.