GOP Needs A Robert Strauss
I was flipping channels today and came across a replay of a Book TV episode on C-Span. The topic was a biography of long time Democratic operative Robert Strauss.
One of the points made by the author (his great niece) was that Strauss took over as chairman of the Democratic national committee in the aftermath of the McGovern fiasco of 1972. At the time there was talk that the Democratic party was in serious danger of losing its position as the majority party in the US.
Over the next four years he worked to rebuild and reorganize the party and the result was a Democratic victory in the 1976 election. His mantra during this time was always that he was going to deliver a party to a candidate in 1976 rather than deliver a candidate to the party.
As she made this point she commented that the GOP would do well to take a lesson from this as they seem to be wanting to deliver a candidate to a divided party versus a united party to a candidate.
Another aspect of how Strauss handled things was that he never sought to purge elements of the party but rather to work with them to give all segments something of what they wanted. Considering the Democratic party of the 70?s included southern conservatives, northern liberals, McGovernites and Wallace supporters, this was no mean feat.
Of course in doing this Strauss also required the factions to compromise. No one faction could run the show and the more extreme elements, be they right or left, did have to be pushed out.
I do think the GOP does need to follow this advice. Today we have a strong Tea Party element in the party that seems to want to purge anyone who does not toe the line. Purity in that sense may be desirable to those who agree with the TP agenda but it is not enough to win an election.
At the same time, there is a level of disdain for the Tea Party among some party bosses that needs to be re-examined. I’m certainly not saying the GOP should turn over control to one faction, and indeed just as there were some elements that Strauss had to marginalize, so there are factions the GOP needs to limit.
But in the end a united party that embraces a wide range of options and opinions is one that would best serve the party and the nation (and indeed some elements of the Democratic party could learn the same lesson).
Of course I don’t expect the GOP to follow my advice which is why they are going to find it increasingly hard to get my vote