For many years, I’ve been part of an effort to make the Republican Party more inclusive in various ways. I believe it is important to have a good and strong center-right party in order to counter the Democrats.
That said, I am not as certain that the GOP can reform itself anymore. From the recent ouster of Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett, to the ultra-crazy Maine GOP Platform, to John McCain whoring himself to the far right in order to win a Republican primary for the Senate, I am starting to come to a place that many of my friends have come to long ago: that the Republican Party might be too far gone to save.
Which is why I am beginning to think that it’s time to look into creating a new center right party in America. But before I say what I do want, I want to make clear what I don’t want:
- A “centrist” party that tries to reach both Republicans and Deomcrats. In Minnesota, we have a viable third party called the Independence Party. It’s claim to fame is that Governor Jesse Ventura has been their only sucessful candidate. That said, it is not a strong third party partly because it tries to be a party without ideology. It is trying to capture that middle ground in American politics, which is laudable. However, their disdain for the rigid ideologies of the two major parties have produced a party that doesn’t know what it stands for. It tends to capture both former Republicans and Democrats and the result is a mismash of the two ideologies.
- Independent Candidates. While it is the dream of some to see more candidates running without any party affiliation, I tend to think this option is not the best. The record of winning independent campaigns is not very good and independent candidates lack the “people power” that political parties can provide. Also, they have little staying power- once the successful independent candidate leaves 0ffice, traditional party politics comes back.
No, I think there is a need for a credible center-right alternative to the Republicans. One that isn’t wrapped up in the Tea Party/Sarah Palin/ Religious Right/Ron Paul nuttiness.
It’s time for a center right party that is truly fiscally conservative, truly believes in limited goverment and is truly socially liberal. A party that is interested in reaching the Center as much as it is in reaching the Right. One patterned more after One Nation Conservatism is the UK.
So here’s a message to Bob Bennett, John McCain and other Republicans: maybe instead of trying to make a purse out of a sow’s ear, maybe it’s time to start anew and create a new center-right coalition.