Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is among the last moderate Republican officeholders remaining. In the New York Times she laments the departure of her friend and fellow moderate Arlen Specter for the Democratic Party, claiming that her party has failed to appreciate the need for moderates as well as conservatives in order to win. Then she pulls out the big guns, quoting Ronald Reagan:
“We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty…As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”
It was Barry Goldwater who, in 1964, said, “Extremism at the defense of liberty is no vice… and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” He lost.
Reagan advocated the big tent for his party, announced that a liberal Republican senator from Pennsylvania would be his running mate if he won the GOP nomination in 1976, and when he became president in 1981, compromised with Tip O’Neill to get his agenda through Congress. Reagan won.
Do Republicans want to win?
Snowe seems to think not, which is why it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see both her and fellow Maine senator, Susan Collins, follow Specter into the Democratic Party.
After all, how long would you want to keep fighting at the Alamo?
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