Home > 2008 elections, The Right > What ails the GOP

What ails the GOP

November 19, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I don’t really have much interest in figuring out why the Republican Party seems to have gone to hell, but the debates are kind of interesting. Especially the one about religious conservatives. Spurred by a Kathleen Parker column, here’s Daniel Larison saying the religious right isn’t the problem and here’s Kevin Drum making a case that it’s at least a significant factor.

For my part, both seem right. Speaking for myself, one of those young people who came of political age during the Bush administration, the fact that Bush’s presidency has been such a disaster really does seem like the catalyst for my views. My parents are conservative, it’s hard to claim I was indoctrinated in college given that I was a CS major and took almost no relevant humanities classes, and I had no particularly political friends. If 9/11 and the Iraq war hadn’t occurred, it’s not a stretch to say I’d be pretty apolitical.

On the other hand, I’m not religious. To the extent that I thought about it, I’ve always held liberal-ish social views. So even were I inclined to GOP positions on the economy and foreign policy, the GOP still looks to me like the party of conservative Christians who really don’t like, well, people like me.

So I think Republicans are getting hit from two sides. Their recent performance is disastrous and just for good measure they’ve alienated a lot of young people to whom they could appeal for another chance. The former they can fix by finding candidates to competently advance their basic agenda (a hawkish foreign policy and a smaller government, business-focused domestic policy are always going to be capable of winning elections). Easier said than done. The latter they can fix by dumping the crazy people. But dumping those people will alienate the religious right and if they haven’t restored their brand otherwise (and maybe even if they have), the cure will be worse than the disease.

So it looks to me like they have to solve the first problem and improve their standing a bit regarding the second. Moderate enough on social issues to make people like me less hostile (obviously I’m probably too far gone for them to placate me completely and not entirely lose the religious right) and people in charge who aren’t corrupt fuck-ups. It’s not really an existential problem, but it’s still a difficult path to walk without screwing it all up.

Categories: 2008 elections, The Right
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