Last Spring a Pew poll found that only 23% of voters consider themselves Republicans. This month an ABC/Washington Post survey suggests the number has fallen even further—to 20%. Meanwhile the largest block of voters, 36%, classify as Independents, with 35% calling themselves Democrats.
One more number: 72% of Republicans identify themselves as conservative.
Bottom line—the Republicans Party is deeply conservative while America is predominantly conservative. It is the party label that has trouble, not the philosophy which was once its driving force.
The key to expansion then is to realign itself with that which is conservative and regain the trust of the 35% of Independents and 21% of Democrat who also call themselves conservative. You do this with candidates who appeal to these voters—conservative populists who speak with boldness and clarity about their vision for America. Then you paint democratic candidates with the Obama brush-- fiscally irresponsible, socially radical, out of touch liberals fully engaged in bankrupting the nation.
So what are Republican Party leaders doing? With 20% of the electorate in their pocket they’re running to the middle, adding even more credibility to Sam Francis’ description of them as the “Stupid Party”.
According to story in Politico this past week, “many top Republicans are growing worried that the party’s chances for reversing its electoral routs of 2006 and 2008 are being wounded by the flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone of conservative activists and media personalities.” But it was on their “big tent, big spending, big amnesty” watch that the referenced defeats took place!
This same article reports that John McCain and his little side-kick Lindsey Graham are working to move the party in a “more centrist direction”. But a year ago McCain, as the party’s nominee, couldn’t energize a Republican convention without first inviting the fire-breathing right-wing Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, to join him on stage.
In January the Republican Party was in shambles—it had been disgraced, dismissed and discarded by Americans. While party officials and operatives were licking their wounds after eight hard years of destroying the party label, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck went on the offense, cracked the national media’s protective shield of the President and exposed Obama as a committed Leftist with a radical agenda designed to bankrupt the nation. Their clarion call energized and excited the movement, and led to citizen revolts at town hall meetings and tea party rallies that have, at least temporarily, derailed Obama’s efforts to nationalize health care.
These talk show hosts, their conservative colleagues in the media, the Tea Party activists and the Town Hall protesters voluntarily headed to the front lines in the battle to take back our country. And the hierarchy of the twenty percent party is embarrassed by their “flamboyant rhetoric and angry tone”? So accustomed to the mushy, empty, carefully scripted, feel-good messages of party moderates it is little wonder the bold, clear, honest, deeply felt statements of the conservatives sent Republican operatives into feverish chills.
But the Republican establishment continues to recruit and support milk toast RINOs as candidates. In upstate New York’s special election, they found a real prize—the pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, tax and spend Republican, Dede Scozzafava, to carry the Republican label. She is running against the Conservative Party’s candidate Doug Hoffman, a solid conservative on most every issue. She “has the best chance of winning” is their argument. Therein lies the fundamental principle of today’s Republican Party.
Republican leaders are blind—utterly unable to see the dramatic change that has occurred in the electorate during the last few years. Americans have given up on their brand of Republicanism. It didn’t stand for anything yesterday, and the people don’t believe it will stand for anything tomorrow.
Which begs the question: with only 20% of Americans identifying as such, is the Republican label irrelevant? Would it be better to be on the ballot as the Conservative Party candidate, or the Independent Party candidate, if such were possible, rather than the Republican Party candidate? Two times as many voters identify as Conservatives than Republicans. Likewise two times as many voters identify as Independent than Republican. While all other factors may not be equal (party organization and money sources, for instance) is it not possible with internet fundraising and Tea Party regulars ready to volunteer that the GOP ballot position is no longer the asset it once was.
If Upstate New York is any indication this is indeed the case.
While Newt Gingrich endorsed the liberal Scozzafava simply because “she is the Republican nominee”, the voters aren’t buying it. They want more. The darling of the party elite has managed to capture only 20% --those happy to buy just a label--and the race is now a dead heat between the Democrat and the Conservative.
Will Republicans leaders figure it all out before 2010? Will they embrace as candidates bold populist conservatives who “speak without fear” in the words of Glenn Beck? Or will they shun these patriots and let them run as Conservatives? The revolution spreading across America will provide men and women strong enough to take this country back—only question is: what role will the Republican Party play?