In Defense of "The Oogedy-Boogedy Branch of the GOP"
Every time the GOP takes a beating at the ballot box there are calls to get rid of those doggone social conservatives -- or as Kathleen Parker refers to them, the "oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP." This is a fascinating argument -- well, fascinating if you like watching people who don't even realize that they're doing little more than projecting their own personal biases onto the Republican Party and calling it political strategy.
Atheists, agnostics, Elvis worshippers, Jedis, Satanists -- it doesn't matter; they're all welcome in the Republican Party (Ok, not the Satanists so much. They're creepy losers). However, we live in an overwhelmingly Christian nation founded on Christian principles -- and reaching out to people who have Christian values makes so much sense that even the Democrats hold their nose and do it -- a little.
Additionally, maybe it's just my imagination, but didn't we just run a candidate for President who's notoriously unfriendly to social conservatives? I'm also pretty sure I remember some sort of "wrinkly white haired guy" who almost completely ignored issues like gay marriage and abortion on the campaign trail, even though Obama had huge weaknesses on those issues. So, if a non-socially conservative GOP is such a huge winner at the polls, shouldn't John McCain be gleefully preparing to knife the conservative movement in the back from the White House -- as opposed to gleefully preparing to knife the conservative movement in the back from the Senate?
I guess that's one of those questions we'll never be able to answer. You know, sort of like: if socially conservative issues like opposition to gay marriage are such huge political losers, how is it that those issues keep winning at the ballot box? Moreover, why is it that Barack Obama -- who has done everything except be a flower girl at a gay wedding to let people know that he really supports gay marriage -- adamantly claims to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman? This is not exactly up there with the Bermuda Triangle on the mystery meter, my friends....
If the GOP is going to tell 26% of American voters to take a hike, who, pray tell, are we going to replace them with? The 500,000 people who voted for Bob Barr? Maybe we can get Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, and Christopher Buckley to start voting Republican again. That's not quite 26%, but it's a start, right?
It's also worth noting that if the GOP wants to reach out to demographic groups that we're not doing very well with, like Hispanics and black Americans, socially conservative issues are one of the best ways to do it. "About one-third of Catholics in the United States are now Hispanic." Moreover, 90% of Hispanics are members of some branch of the Christian faith. The same goes for black Americans, "85 percent (of whom) say religion is very important in their lives."
Lessons from Britain Could Save the GOP?
Much has been written lately regarding how the Republican Party might re-form itself into a winning operation. Of course, this debate has been around for a long time, but our recent losses have reignited the debate. This time, however (perhaps having learned from liberals that "progressive" sounds better) -- the moderates have re-branded themselves as "modernizers", "reformers", or "pragmatists". And to give their revolution some historical credibility, they have given themselves a new hero: British Conservative Party Leader David Cameron.
Cameron has repositioned his party closer to the center of the political spectrum. However, moderation in itself has not always worked for him. In fact, one of his biggest plans to seize the middle-ground blew up in his face. After his election as party leader, Cameron almost immediately adopted environmentalism as his key issue and launched a new party slogan: "Go Green, Vote Blue" (Blue being the color symbolic of the party). That slogan is long gone today (it's one of the few pieces of the Cameron experiment not to have succeeded). Now, to be sure, environmentalism is still a big part of the party's appeal. Actually, the party has always been seen as strong on that front considering the left-wing Labour Party's association with not-so-green labor interests such as coal miners. However, it is still safe to say that the "Go Green" marketing gimmick flopped.
Most of the program did, however, succeed. If you go to the party's website or watch their ads you will see a much more hopeful message than you did a few years ago. Gone is the old logo, a rather intimidating hand grasping a torch. It has been replaced by a very happy-looking tree. Everything about the new message is hopeful, sunny, and forward looking -- and the focus is now on "quality of life" issues like family, healthcare and education. Granted, the old "taxes and national security" message is still there, but it comes packaged as part of a larger message that the Conservative Party cares about people. Cameron also makes a point of being modern and tech-savvy, as illustrated by his "WebCameron" video blogs. These are all fantastic moves, and the Republican Party should move quickly to implement them (of course, technology is philosophically neutral). By the way, the people who are broadening this discussion here in America are conservative governors like Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal. They are the real "American Camerons" in my mind.
Another big part of the Cameron approach was solidify and reassure all wings of his party, including the "traditionalist" right wing. In fact, one of the first moves was to give plum positions in his "Shadow Cabinet" (essentially the cabinet in-waiting) to the two right wingers he defeated to win the party leadership. Runner-up David Davis was given the hugely powerful post of Shadow Home Secretary, while third place candidate Liam Fox became Shadow Secretary of State for Defense. Furthermore, two of Cameron's predecessors as party leader scored influential positions as well, with William Hague (leader from 1997-2001) becoming Shadow Foreign Secretary and Iain Duncan Smith (leader from 2001-2003) heading up the party's new Social Justice Policy Group. All of these people became genuine players on the Cameron team, and Cameron has benefited from this inclusive approach. Far from jettisoning the right wing or the traditional leaders, Cameron has made a point of including them in his revolution.
Another thing that David Cameron would never consider is taking social issues off the table. In fact, he is largely responsible for putting them back on the table as a way of making his party look more compassionate than the left wing alternatives. Now, the Brits don't deal with the same social issues we do - abortion is considered a non-issue and the main issue is keeping marriages and families from breaking apart rather than debating gay marriage. However, Cameron has revolutionized the social debate by hijacking the left wing term "social justice" and lumping the protection of marriage and the family in with other "social justice" issues such as healthcare and education. Of course, that wasn't really a Cameron idea. It was the brainchild of the more "traditionalist" former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who founded the "Centre for Social Justice".
Cameron saw the genius of Duncan Smith's idea, made it a major piece of the platform, and put Duncan Smith himself in charge of party policy on that front. So, again, Cameron didn't throw the SoCons overboard - he incorporated them, revitalized them, and utilized them to his advantage. In fact, family issues seem to animate Cameron like few others. Watch his recent rant about a high-profile domestic violence case and British social services - I don't think anyone can say with a straight face that this man doesn't care about social issues.
On some issues, Cameron has even put forward some proposals that (for Britain) are extremely conservative. For instance, he has been extremely solid on reforming the UK's bloated welfare state. Instead of swinging to the center and embracing these big government programs, Cameron is proposing a welfare-to-work program he says is "the biggest shake-up of the welfare state for 60 years." One might point out that Margaret Thatcher took office only 29 years ago, so if Cameron can live up to his rhetoric, then he actually intends to go further than Thatcher in his crusade to get Brits off welfare.
The key thing to remember about David Cameron is that he dramatically changed the way his party approaches the issues. He shifted the focus onto new issues and made conservatives think of themselves as smiling, forward-looking change agents rather than brooding, tax-obsessed fear-mongers. Still, he didn't change the basic values that the party holds dear. In a lot of ways he's like Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Both are seen as a little moderate because they try to be optimistic pragmatists rather than ideologues, but they also fit into the broad conservative mainstream in their respective nations.
As readers here are presumably aware, I no longer maintain a specialized Obama site. Any comments from me about Obama now appear here on this site. There are however other Obama-focused sites still up. This one has some good posts up
An amusing solution to traffic problems here. Have the government design and build the cars! You will be lucky to get one and they will break down all the time.
Stupid Leftist attempt to drive away Britain's best industries rolled back: "Alistair Darling will announce tomorrow he has bowed to the threat of businesses quitting Britain by saying he will introduce a tax exemption on foreign dividends. The move on foreign dividends, for which businesses have campaigned hard, was rejected last year by Treasury ministers, who warned that the cost of such an exemption would run into hundreds of millions of pounds. But the chancellor's move, to be unveiled in his prebudget report, underlines the government's determination to present its fiscal plan as business-friendly and to avoid a haemorrhaging of tax revenues as a result of companies moving abroad. In recent months several high-profile companies have announced that they are moving their headquarters to other countries, including WPP, Shire, United Business Media, Charter, Regus and Henderson. Darling's advisers hope the exemption to be announced tomorrow will stem the flow."
Good! New privatizations to help offset bank nationalizations in Britain: "A string of state-owned household names including the Met Office, mapmaker Ordnance Survey and the Forestry Commission, are being prepared for sale by the government in the next two years to raise cash for the stretched public purse. Alistair Darling, the chancellor, is thought to have drawn up a list of 10 companies to offload, including the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. He will outline the programme in the prebudget report tomorrow alongside details of a Whitehall efficiency drive. Several companies will now be groomed for sale by the Shareholder Executive, the body charged with improving the government's performance as a shareholder. Many of the smaller assets being considered for sale were sized up by the Conservatives in the mid-1990s, when Lord Heseltine succeeded in privatising the commercial arm of the Atomic Energy Authority but failed to sell the Forestry Commission. Channel 4 is excluded for the moment but will be assessed by the new communications minister, Lord Carter, before a decision is made. A backlog of maintenance will probably keep British Waterways from being sold, while the Royal Mint and the Land Registry are more likely to be offloaded."
Jobs bonanza for British pen-pushers: "There has never been a better time to look for a new job - so long as you are an equality and diversity manager, a home-to-school transport service manager, or a senior play pathfinder. While thousands of private sector workers are being made redundant, local authorities and government departments are still creating a plethora of obscure pen-pushing posts at taxpayers' expense. These roles offer salaries of up to $100,000, a 37-hour week and enviable job security. Jobs on offer range from an integrated whole systems care pathway manager at Camden Primary Care Trust to an appointment for a principal nuisance response officer at Reading borough council. According to the council, the latter "exciting" role entails the management of three nuisance response officers as well as three "advice shops" as part of an effort to devise solutions to antisocial behaviour. A spokeswoman for the council - whose members have recently called for officers to "maximise efficiency" in the face of a bleak financial outlook - defended the appointment, saying: "The job is definitely an essential job which the council needs and is vital to the service." The London borough of Newham seems to be undaunted by tough times. Last week the council found $80,000 to create a post as a casework support services manager for a burgeoning team of administrators, co-ordinators, occupational therapists, handymen and surveyors within its Home Improvement Agency (HIA)."
Richly rewarded bureaucrats in Britain: "Nearly 200 public sector "fat cats" are earning more than [Prime Minister] Gordon Brown, according to a new rich list published today. Executives paid at the taxpayer's expense are enjoying record salaries, huge bonuses, job security and perks that are the envy of those in the business world. The list identifies 387 people earning more than $300,000 a year. Half of them earn more than the prime minister, who is paid $350,000. Four receive packages totalling at least $2m. James Hall, chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), the agency charged with introducing the ID card, enjoys a home-to-work travel allowance of $20,000, equal to the salary of an office junior in many firms. The public even has to fork out for the 40% tax on this perk. Hall, 54, has need of the allowance as the owner of Barlaston Hall, an 18th-century pile in Staffordshire which is 160 miles from his office in Whitehall... Bernard Herdan, 61, a fellow IPS director who lives in a former Victorian rectory in the Bedfordshire village of Swineshead, received a $20,000 home-to-work allowance as part of his $300,000 package."
Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to get life saving anti-sniper device : "British and American forces fighting the guerilla insurgence in Iraq and Afghanistan could soon be protected by an anti-sniper device that can pinpoint the position of the shooter within a fraction of a second. The palm-sized device designed by Qinetiq, the British defence firm that was once the government research laboratories, is pinned to the uniform and uses acoustic technology to calculate the exact position of the rifle fire. Then a electronic voice passes on the "bearing and range" to the soldier allowing him to jump to safety and return fire. The machine has already been purchased by the Americans for deployment in the New Year and the British are looking at a vehicle mounted version. After roadside bombs, snipers have been the biggest cause of the 301 British fatalities in both wars, and army chiefs are convinced the device could save dozens of lives."It is all about saving guys' lives," said Don Steinman, one of the leaders of the project at Qinetiq North America who developed the device called EARS for Early Attack Reaction System.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)