Over the weekend in the OC Register’s Letters pages and in today’s Los Angeles Times local/California section are two distinct pieces that try to set a bottom or a baseline for conservative politics in California and nationally.
The first is a extraordinarily long Letter to the Editor in the Register by Fritz Mehrtens of Irvine.Â Considering most Register letters run about 200 words, this long piece must have struck someone at the Register’s editorial pages as a long overdue lette that needed to be written.Â
Conservatives advocate small government. Republicans enlarged the federal bureaucracy at the expense of local autonomy. Conservatives support fiscal responsibility. Republicans increased spending, with special attention to increasing the number of earmarks each year. Conservatives value selfless, ethical conduct. Republicans repeatedly brought scandal to Washington. Conservatives want government to leave them alone. Republicans frequently meddled in state, local and personal matters. Conservatives believe in using conservative principles to solve national problems. Republicans did nothing about the economy, deficit spending, immigration, energy, health care and tax reform.
Today’s Republican Party has but one goal: to win elections. Republican leaders gathered recently to discuss how to attract black and Hispanic voters who figured prominently in the Democrats success in November. Such focus may lead the party to engage in group politics and cater to the liberal, big government programs currently attractive to minorities. But, while winning elections may be enough for the professional political class, it is not sufficient for conservatives, whose goal is to govern conservatively. What’s the point of winning if we fail to govern according to our basic principles?
And then today’s LA Times ran this interview with GOP activist Mike Spence.
From that story:
“The California Republican Party is dead,” election analyst Tony Quinn, himself a Republican, wrote last week on Fox & Hounds Daily, a political blog. “Call the undertaker, haul away the corpse.”
more after the jump:
Others apply a less severe metaphor: dismal health. Either way, signs of doom abound.
Starkest of all was McCain’s loss to Barack Obama in the presidential contest last month by a staggering 3.3 million votes — or a margin of 61% to 37%. Since 1900, the only Republican nominee for the White House to be trounced by a wider gap in California was Alf Landon, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s challenger in 1936.
Also alarming for conservatives is the hemorrhaging of Republicans from the state’s voter rolls, even in the party’s longtime strongholds.
When California’s election map was last adjusted in 2002, Republicans made up more than half of the voters in 11 of the state’s 173 congressional or legislative districts, and Democrats held 66. Now, Republicans constitute a majority in zero, and Democrats hold 57.
Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican consultant and publisher of the California Target Book election guide, described the state GOP as “a white man’s party.” As California has diversified, he said, the party has failed to adapt.
“They have lost the confidence of the overwhelming majority of minority voters, people of color,” Hoffenblum said.
Spence, however, sees opportunities to expand the party’s reach. Conservatives can take heart, he said, in the strong support of Latinos and African Americans for Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage.
“There’s at least one issue we agree on,” he said.
Spence, a former Mormon bishop who serves on the West Covina school board and advises the National Right to Life Committee, also sees Republican resistance to tax increases as attractive to many Californians.
But those glimmers of hope don’t easily translate into electoral victory.
Fiscal discipline does in fact resonate with voters, said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank. But the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage puts off many younger Californians as well as upscale moderates, he said. And the party’s hard line on illegal immigration has hurt its standing among Latinos, a group that grew from a 7% share of the electorate in 1992 to 18% last month.”
But here’s the nut of it:
“The lengthy standoff between more moderate Republicans and the conservatives over which path is more appealing to California voters has only sharpened in the wake of the November defeat. That has left the party not only reeling but unable to coalesce behind a strategy for resurrection.”
I find the claim that there’s a solid difference between Conservatives and the Republican Party to be a foolish one.Â Democrats have simply done a better job of uniting the interests of left wing liberals and moderate progressives with even more conservative blue dog Democrats than moderate Republicans and right wing conservatives have.
Nationally, from 2002-2006, the Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, a powerful executive office with an imperial presidency and vice presidency, as well as a right-leaning Supreme Cout.Â The Republicans governed poorly.Â And the American voters punished them for it in 2006 and 2008.Â
And with their number diminishing in California, the Republican minority in the Assembly and the Senate can only cling to a no new taxes pledge to hold on to any semblence of relevancy.Â This is the party that wouldn’t close tax loopholes for luxury yacht owners but wants to keep cutting away at education.Â Yes, spending is out of control in Sacramento, but the Republicans have certainly advocated strongly for spending in areas they deem crucial to their future electorial success.
Orange County is no longer America’s most Republican County.Â Barack Obama won in CD-48 where Republican registration outstrips Democratic registration and in Irvine, the No on Prop 8 vote prevailed while Irvine progressives won their fifth straight electorial majority.
I wonder if www.purplecounty.com is taken?