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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Republicans Need Moderation, Too

    It’s never too early to start thinking ahead, and for the Republican Party, they haven’t hesitated in throwing punches at the new president. Not that criticism of the president and those in power isn’t warranted, but Republicans seem more interested in bringing down “liberal” policies and those associated with them than they are with restructuring and redefining themselves.

    Democrats might be painted as spendthrift liberals, but at least they have an association that both supporters and opponents can stick to. After eight years of a disastrous Bush administration and eventual rejection of “neocon” ideology, what is a Republican at this point?

    There’s no denying that their party is fractured, fleeting, and failing to create unified identity of core values. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that there are too many factions within republicanism that are just as contrasting in political philosophy as they are to their liberal counterparts. Within the Republican Party there are really at least three other sub-parties. They are: 1. Neocon: As was seen with the past Bush administration. Big government, strong military and warmongering, economic support big business and an unregulated financial sector. 2. Religious Right: A large part of the Republican Party, made up mainly of evangelical Christians. Very concerned about social issues and “morality.” Emphasis on issues like abortion and making sure to keep science out of science classrooms.

    3. Libertarian: Although a separate party itself, Libertarians retain many of the old values of traditional conservatism, and often vote for GOP candidates. Fiscal conservatives, they believe in cutting spending across the board, low (if any) taxes, and deregulate industry. Also believe in avoiding foreign intervention in other countries and seek less federal control and more state control over rights such as abortion, gay marriage, drug laws, etc.

    The problem is that these three factions are at odds with one another. While Republicans might agree on some overall values, the difference in ideology between a Christian Republican and a fiscal Libertarian can be immensely different.

    Also keep in mind that Democrats already make up the majority of registered voters besides non-affiliated voters. If Republicans are going to have a chance at getting moderates on board, let alone win any future elections, they are going to have to restructure their base, starting by defining what their core ideology is.

    Much of the problem with Republicanism right now is that many of their politics are both polarizing and souring to the average American. People care more about getting things done than the ideology and political quibbling that politicians often debate about more than the actual issues.

    Think of the 2008 election. Regardless of your political affiliation, you can’t ignore Obama’s brilliance at playing towards the center of the political spectrum. People care more about health care, gas, education and their mortgages than they do about overarching political philosophies. While McCain was mumbling about $5,000 tax credits so that you could buy health care if you wanted to, Obama was preaching about how he’d guarantee every American access to universal health care. Simply said, the Republican ideal that “everyone has the right to pursue happiness, but if you fail then too bad because we gave you a fair chance,” has collapsed.

    Not that this kind of declaration mandate doesn’t have a future in American society, but after eight years where many felt as if the rich got richer at their expense, this mindset needs an overhaul. It’s possible that the Libertarian wing heads stand the best chance at recapturing the White House in 2012, under the condition that they can come together within the Republican Party and truly show how their economic principles of free market deregulation and state rights over federal mandates are better than that of Obama’s policies.

    This might all be moot, however, depending on how the next couple of years go. If Obama does get the economy functioning even semi-competently again, then there’s little chance that he’ll lose re-election. Republicans need to be patient and think ahead years down the road.

    There should be hope, but then again, the early Republican debates last year hardly ever let the most Libertarian and level-headed of the candidates — Ron Paul — have his fair say on the issues without being booed by the crowd. Maybe after eight years of neocon, religious control, and another of lefty-liberalist, the Republicans will be able to unite behind a more sensible option.

    It’s hard to say as a lot can change within the next four years. The main question, though, is will the party fracture or remain intact? They still have some time to figure things out, but if they nominate someone like Palin or Romney for 2012, it’s not going to be pretty. Let’s hope they can redefine themselves before then for everyone’s sake.

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