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article imageAfter Specter's Switch, GOP Is Place At An Ideological Crossroad

By Can Tran     Apr 30, 2009 in Politics
In the wake of what has happened within the last few days, it has put the Republican Party at a crossroads. Now there is the heated internal debate on which direction to turn.
So far, those in the Republican Party may find themselves in a crossroad. There poses the question: Do they become more moderate or lean more to the right and stay conservative? This is a question that was asked before and after the United States Elections in 2008. The last few months have been quite interesting for the most part.
It was just a few days ago that Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had announced the switching of political party from Republican to Democrat. Conservatives blasted Specter while moderates gave sympathy. Before the switch of political party, Specter was considered as a moderate Republican. As a result, this may put moderates and conservatives at each other’s throats in the party. GOP Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, considered to be moderates, say that the GOP is at risk of being full of conservatives.
Asides from the first question asked, another question is posed: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
So far, some conservatives are saying it is a good thing. According to an article in the New York Times, Republicans are asking themselves this question: Diversify in order to get an edge over the Democrats or be “pure” and boot out all of the moderates?
The article explains that some of the conservatives are happy with Specter leaving the GOP. They imply that by purging themselves of the moderates, they can move away from the policies during the era of former President George W. Bush. However, Republicans in Congress say a different story. They imply that by being “pure,” the party will shoot itself in the foot. Another valid point has been brought up as well.
While the conservatives taking about being on the “pure” path for the party, they talk about individual responsibility and economic freedom. In short, it takes account of smaller government. However, what about social issues? In regards to the debate, what would be the stance on social issues?
GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, the manager for McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, explained that the GOP needs to be more liberal on social issues such as same-sex marriage. Schmidt warned that the GOP is at risk of becoming the “religious party.”
On the flip-side, there are Republicans not too thrilled with Specter’s departure. One such person is Meghan McCain, the daughter of GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona. McCain was the GOP rival to Democratic President Barack Obama.
Meghan has been at odds with several known figures of the GOP. So far, her criticism is now directed towards Specter. This is according to what is picked up in a CNN Political Ticker article. Meghan McCain expressed disappointment in Specter leaving. She explained the need for members to be courageous enough. In that respect, she criticized Specter for leaving the party.
In respect to the crossroads, the GOP is launching a new initiative to repair its image. This initiative is known as the “National Council for a New America.” This aims to send GOP leaders across the nation to tackle a number of issues. Notable figures in the GOP will be in this panel. Its first stop will be in Arlington, Virginia.
With regards on what path to take, the GOP may have to make a decision soon. An article on explains about a recent poll conducted. The number of independent voters is on the rise. However, the Democrats have not really made significant gains. Depending on what path the GOP decides to choose, it could capitalize on the rising number of independents.
A CNN poll taken said that the GOP leadership in Congress is at a C-. At the same time, a similar poll taken said that the Democratic leadership in Congress is at a C. For the most part, they are tied. Depending on what path the GOP decides to take (becoming “pure” or broader), it could affect the grade. However, polls are not completely accurate and are subject to errors.
However, Specter’s decision to defect to the Democratic Party may have really caused this question to skyrocket into the air. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh quickly went on the attack against Specter. Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Michael Steele, when asked, about Specter’s departure, stood by what Limbaugh had said. At the same time, he dismissed Snowe’s criticism.
On the flipside picked up on another Political Ticker article, Steele said that the Republican Party “ignited” the economic situation.
In another CNN Political Ticker article, Katon Dawson said that the GOP needs to remain conservative. Dawson is currently the head of South Carolina’s GOP. He ran up against Steele in the race for RNC chairman.
Back in November of 2008 after the Presidential Elections, the GOP Governors had given a different point of view. Back in November 12, 2008, the Republican Governors Association had a meeting to talk about the situation. During the meeting GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota explained that the GOP needs more diversity in the ranks. He said that they need to overcome the deficit of women, Latinos, blacks, and middle income voters.
Again with the one main issue: What direction will the GOP ultimately head in? Also in the NY Times article, Republicans in Washington imply that being more conservative will shrink the party ranks. Graham explains that the GOP will keep getting losses if it focuses more on ideology. While those wanting to steer the GOP in a more conservative path, it only touches ground on the issues of fiscal responsibility, smaller/effective government, and personal responsibility. However, where do the social issues factor into this?
Also in the NY Time article, Graham asks a rhetorical question if the GOP really believed it lost young or Latino voters by not being conservative enough.
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