WOODSTOCK, VT. — The Wall Street Journal, no left wing publication, reports that Republicans may soon lose the votes of some economic conservatives. In part, it’s because of the unending war in Iraq and social policies they don’t like, but they might swallow hard and continue to vote Republican anyway if GOP fiscal policies did not mimic the Democrats when it comes to the deficit and spending.
Maybe what the GOP needs is a fall foliage trip to Vermont where there is an oasis in a desert of fossilized ‘60s liberalism. You might not think so at first glance because here, someone seems to have pushed the “pause” button on the Age of Aquarius.
A trip to local bookstores is like visiting Democratic National Committee headquarters. No, that’s not quite accurate. It’s more like visiting MoveOn.org headquarters. Buttons that say “Impeach Cheney First” compete with bumper stickers with messages like “Freedom of Religion Means Freedom FROM Religion” and “Never Have Sex with a Pro-Lifer.”
The most conservative book I could find was one by Jimmy Carter. There are “EmbarrassMints” with a picture of President Bush on the lid of the confection tin. I bought an Elvis Impersonation Kit just for fun. You get the idea.
President Bush has avoided Vermont during his presidency, but he might want to consider leading a pilgrimage of Republican candidates back to a little hamlet just down the road, which produced a Republican president with ideas his party desperately needs.
That hamlet is Plymouth Notch and that president was Calvin Coolidge. Today’s Republicans seem to have an identity crisis. Their focus groups and pollsters have been unable to tell them what they believe. Sen. John McCain is an Episcopalian who wants to become a Baptist, but won’t “convert” until after the election, lest it seem like opportunism. Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, but promises to name judges who interpret the Constitution as written and doesn’t care if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Fred Thompson believes the opposite of what he said he believed a very short time ago. Ditto Mitt Romney. Those GOP candidates who have been consistent in their convictions — like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback and even Rep. Ron Paul — are back in the pack. Does that say more about us than it does them?
The president ought to visit Vermont and Coolidge’s birth and burial place. It looks pretty much the way it did when Coolidge lived there and visited as president. The state and private contributors (including me as I serve in an unpaid advisory capacity) have kept it that way.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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