Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why not to support moderates

The moderate Republican is pleased:

A day after the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples should have the right to marry in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday that he supports the court's decision even though his personal view is that "marriage is between a man and a woman."

I tend to believe that the gay-marriage issue gets far more attention than it deserves. Unlike the abortion issue, no innocent parties are being harmed in the process, and it's not as if the sanction of the government to sodomy changes much, at least in how Christians are concerned. A sin is a sin regardless of whether or not it is approved by the state. Still, I am not a Republican, so my views on this issue are different than many of the GOP rank and file. And though it's probably true that most of them are intent on supporting the good ship McCain as it sinks in November, California's governator provides a good look at how "moderates" tend to govern.

Then again, if Republicans were capable of recognizing betrayal, they would have turned on Bush long ago. Still, it bears mentioning that, while Bush's Supreme Court nominees have yet to stab the party in the back, the California ruling was brought to you by Republican appointees. In this light, it's going to be increasingly difficult to defend voting for McCain on the grounds that he'll appoint good Supreme Court justices.

UPDATE: I just saw this on Drudge:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created shock and awe in the Republican Party when he warned years ago that the GOP was in danger of "dying at the box office" by failing to make the sale to a wide swath of voters...

The answer for GOP presidential candidate John McCain: take a page out of the Schwarzenegger playbook and sell a product that is "counter" to the current GOP brand on issues like global warming, spending and even immigration reform.

There are two problems to this line of thinking. The first is that it doesn't work. Ronald Reagan is a hugely over-rated President, but he captured moderates, not by running as a wishy-washy moderate, but as a principled conservative. That he failed to govern as such is lamentable, but beside the point.

The second problem is bigger. If politics were all about winning, you could legitimize running as a complete charlatan. But if your goal is to shrink the size of the federal government--forget that this is not the Republican's goal--you can't run a bunch of "big spenders".

The Republicans appear to have learned nothing from the Bush years. It's going to take a considerable amount of time in the political wilderness before they remember why they joined the party in the first place. Two or three decades should do the trick.

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