Thursday, November 6, 2008

The GOP Lost Its Conservative Way

I heard an article on NPR's Fresh Air: The Future Of The Conservative Movement. It's an interview with Mickey Edwards, a former Republican Congressman who wrote Reclaiming Conservatism. He made great points about the trajectory of the Republican party over the past decade and a half.

Edwards is a true conservative. He was a GOP congressman from 1977-93. He is also co-founder of the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank). He was a policy director for the Reagan campaign in 1980. His conservative chops are indisputable.

Some of Edwards' points:
  • The Bush administration has run rough shod over the constitution and it's been supported by the Republicans in Congress. The GOP used to be the party of individual freedoms, but now they have set them aside because it's convenient.
  • Some of this started when Newt Gingrich (initially as the party's Whip) said that the Republicans in Congress should fight Democrats at all times. It was all about non-stop political warfare. Standing for their principles and serving the public took a backseat to winning elections.
  • Under Gingrich, the GOP members in Congress were told to look to the President (Reagan, then Bush 41) as the leader of the party. This destroyed the separation of powers and the way the branches were supposed to interact.
  • Edwards supported (and voted for) Obama. He doesn't agree with most of Obama's political positions, but he likes Obama's temperament.
Edwards says:
I like the Republican party, but I care a lot more about my country than I care about my party. Somehow we [the Republican leadership] got that reversed.
Anyway, the people I find most interesting right now are the Republicans who are doing serious introspection. When Democrats rip apart the Republicans, it seems partisan to me. When Republicans rip themselves for their failings, I see hope. A strong, limited-government GOP would be an important voice in our government. I hope they can find their way back to being a party I respect and away from being a "...tool of southern-fried moralism."

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