The reasons for failure go deep, but the strategy was fundamentally flawed as it depended on keeping two constituencies happy that had little to do with each other. One is the so-callled religious right. Based on the moral precepts of fundamentalist Christianity, this movement puts a high priority on what they consider to be family values: abortion is a sin, homosexuality is a sin, etc. The other group was the business conservatives that historically have been the bulwark of the Republican Party and the source of much of it's funding. Sometimes carried to excess as in the administration of Calvin Collidge, at times very successful as in the New York of Nelson Rockefeller, this is the wing of the Republican Party that was it's most common presence in the Senate.
Now, both of these wings appear to be looking for something else. Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Jackie Chalmes argues that the "GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote".
New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party's identity -- what strategists call its "brand." The votes of many disgruntled fiscal conservatives and other lapsed Republicans are now up for grabs, which could alter U.S. politics in the 2008 elections and beyond.This has a unique resonance for California, where this split is very evident.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has lost some Republican Party support because of his socially liberal stands and his proposals on global warming and universal health care. But those stands have made him more popular generally in the state, while his party is less so. Last month, at the state Republicans' convention, he sounded an alarm. Noting that California Republicans have lost 370,000 registered voters since 2005, the former actor said, "We are dying at the box office." The voters that Republicans need, Mr. Schwarzenegger argued, "often hold conservative views on fiscal policy and law-and-order issues, while taking more liberal stands on social and environmental issues."At the same time, the Religious Right is trying to make it's presence even more forceful in the Republican Presidential Race. Writing in Salon, Michael Scherer reports that
"A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination."The combination of these two recent stories suggests that we are seeing the beginning of a long period of one party rule, just as Rove desired, except that the one party will be the Democrats.
As this plays out, there is both an opportunity for the Green Party and also a danger. The opportunity is in the potential to grow this party by attracting Republicans who care about the environment, who would like to see small local businesses prosper, who understand that social justice is not available to any if it is not available to all. The danger is that the Green Party chooses to ignore some of it's core values and to position itself so far to the left of the Democrats that we confine ourselves to a perpetual fringe status, a noise factor to remind everyone of just how sensible the corporate Democrats are.