Olympia Snowe and Rose Colored Glasses
Writing in an op ed piece for the New York Times today, Olympia Snowe mourns the loss of Arlen Specter to the Democrats and reminisces on what might have been.
I have said that, without question, we cannot prevail as a party without conservatives. But it is equally certain we cannot prevail in the future without moderates.
In that same vein, I am reminded of a briefing by a prominent Republican pollster after the 2004 election. He was asked what voter groups Republicans might be able to win over. He responded: women in general, married women with children, Hispanics, the middle class in general, and independents.
How well have we done as a party with these groups? Unfortunately, the answer is obvious from the results of the last two elections. We should be reaching out to these segments of our population — not de facto ceding them to the opposing party.
There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.
She further states that “we can’t continue to fold our philosophical tent into an umbrella under which only a select few are worthy to stand.”
What is fundamentally sad about this statement is that this folding of the tent into an exclusive umbrella is exactly what most Republican leaders today want for their party.
From Steve Benen:
Some of Snowe’s fellow Republicans have come to a very different conclusion. Last night, for example, Fox News’ Sean Hannity lamented, “I think if anything, the Republican Party is moved to the left in recent years.”
Last week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina raised a similar concern. “I feel that Republicans are starting to get the message of the last two elections—that the American people don’t want a lukewarm agenda,” DeMint said. “They don’t want a liberal light agenda.”
This is a surprisingly common sentiment in conservative circles. They’re absolutely convinced that the only reason Republican numbers have fallen off in recent years is that the GOP hasn’t been nearly conservative enough.
Additionally Specter’s decision seems to have been as much political expediency as any change in philosophical convictions - he was convinced that a moderate Republican had an extremely uphill battle to win the party’s nomination these days. At least in Pennsylvania.
I guess the real question is when Senator Snowe will take off the rose colored glasses, take a good hard look at the company she’s keeping and make her own conversion.
In the meantime Bill Kristol proclaims all this to to be “Good News for Republicans!”