Here’s a column from Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee that ran in this morning’s Register.Ã‚Â Weintraub is a former Register columnist.Ã‚Â The column itself is exceptional when constrasted with columns posted on the Flash Report over the weekend and one posted by Matt Cunningham on OCBlog.net/Red County last night.Ã‚Â
Weintraub’s piece is a bit of validation for me.Ã‚Â That folks we debate with like Cunningham, Fleischman and DeVore are out of step with the mainstream of their own party (they will deny this of course).Ã‚Â But as I always say, the proof in the pudding is in the tasting, and it looks like the Republicans Weintraub writes about have little to do with the hard right wing of their party or the conservative movement.
Who’s more Republican?
Arnold is closer to the GOP mainstream than the party’s McClintock wing
For nearly two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been attacked by conservative Republican legislators and activists who claimed he was not really one of them, that he was a Republican in name only. While he disagreed, and said so a number of times, he never bothered to make much of a public case for his true belief on the subject: It is the activists, not the governor, who are out of touch with the party’s voters.
That changed last Friday.
Schwarzenegger, appearing at a state Republican Party convention in Indian Wells, lectured the mostly conservative delegates about their party’s increasing irrelevance in California, where Democrats control both houses of the Legislature, both U.S. Senate seats, most statewide offices and a majority of the congressional delegation.
That Democratic Party dominance, Schwarzenegger said, is not as inevitable as it seems. It is a fragile control that Republicans could overturn if they would only do more to reach out to independent voters Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who are rising fast as a share of the electorate Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and to disaffected members of both parties.
The governor declared himself a “proud member” of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, who “righted the greatest moral injustice” in the nation’s history; Teddy Roosevelt, the “enthusiastic reformer” and early environmentalist; and Ronald Reagan, the “pragmatic conservative” who captured the political center.
“The goal of any political party is to win elections, to become a majority and to advance its ideals,” Schwarzenegger said. “How do we succeed at that? By including, not excluding. By being open to new ideas, not rejecting them out of hand. By expanding into the center, not falling back upon ourselves into a smaller and smaller corner.”
But a corner is exactly where California’s Republican Party is today.
Led by social conservatives who oppose gay rights, abortion rights and immigration Ã¢â‚¬â€œ illegal immigration, but also, in many cases, even legal immigration Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the party has turned off voters who might be open to its other beliefs in support of individual freedom, entrepreneurs, economic growth and smaller government.
The party has lost 370,000 voters in the past two years and today represents 34 percent of the state’s electorate.
Schwarzenegger told his fellow Republicans that their party is “dying at the box office. We are not filling the seats.”
The shame, he said, is that so many independent voters generally agree with the party’s core principles but are turned off by its focus on a few positions that represent a relative handful, but a loud and influential handful, of the party’s members.
Schwarzenegger said independent voters “believe in limited government that is not wasteful. They believe taxes should be as low as possible, because the more you give government the more it will spend. They believe in individual freedom and the responsibility that goes with that freedom. They believe in the importance of public safety. And they believe that economic prosperity comes from the energy of the marketplace, not from the heavy hand of the state.”
Schwarzenegger himself has veered at times from those principles. The state government has grown steadily on his watch, and he has proposed policies on the environment and health care that violate individual freedom and meddle with free markets. And his Republican opponents were quick to point that out.
“We can win some short-term victories by compromising our philosophy for political expediency,” state Sen. Tom McClintock told the same delegates on Sunday. “I’ve actually watched some people do that. But a party that does that soon discovers it has ceased to be a party. First, it loses its soul. And then it loses its supporters.”
McClintock’s beliefs represent, at best, perhaps half of the Republican Party’s voters. That means they reflect the views of less than 20 percent of the California electorate.
Trying to build that slice into a majority without compromise is a fool’s errand.
Nearly two-thirds of Republican voters consider global warming a serious problem, and 68 percent back the law the governor signed requiring California to reduce greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020.
On health care, 19 percent of Republicans are actually to the left of Schwarzenegger, preferring a Canadian-style single-payer plan that he has derided as “socialized medicine.”
Another 37 percent share his desire to reform the current system with financial responsibility shared among employers, employees and the taxpayers. Only 29 percent say the free market can solve the health care system’s problems.
And on issues to which Schwarzenegger alluded but did not mention, 51 percent of Republican voters back legal recognition for same-sex relationships, either gay marriage or civil unions, while 55 percent say abortion laws should either remain the same or be made more liberal.
Sixty-three percent supported a comprehensive immigration proposal that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Forget reaching out to independent voters and crossover Democrats. The Republican delegates and legislators who abhor Schwarzenegger’s policies are not even in sync with the mainstream of their own party.
Well said Dan!