Whither the Republican Party? The recent scathing criticism of the Washoe GOP chair by two prominent Republicans, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller, leave grassroots conservatives scratching their heads.
Former Republican Lt. Gov Sue Wagner and Neena Laxalt, daughter of former GOP Governor and Senator Paul Laxalt, very publicly switching their registrations from Republican to independent gave further cause to ponder. Is there a mass movement going on here?
Consider the following passage: “At lunch the other day I was startled by a specialist in Republican Party affairs give it as his judgment that not inconceivably the Republican Party would die in about three years.
“‘Here’s what would do it” he explained: ‘first a tremendous defeat in the congressional elections next fall; next, in the coming presidential cycle, a catastrophic defeat at every level – presidential, congressional and local.
“After that he said, in the ruins of the following year, the commanding position of the organizing party would be lost and ambitious conservatives would look for another label. It would be not unlike the end of the Whig Party in the mid-1850s.”
Who said that and when? Answer: William F. Buckley in January 1974 as the GOP was reeling from Watergate. That fall saw a disastrous 1974 mid-term election followed by the election in 1976 of Democrat Jimmy Carter as President. Did the GOP collapse as predicted? No, the following presidential cycle the nation elected Republican Ronald Reagan by a landslide.
Readers may recall Randy Thompson who a few years ago was a Republican candidate for the Nevada Assembly to represent Incline Village/Crystal Bay.
She was edged in the primary election but remained active in the Washoe GOP. Currently she is a media and political consultant and has a regular column in the Reno Gazette Journal.
In her piece titled: “The drive for purity hurting the GOP,” published in the Reno Gazette-Journal last week, she vented a bit about Wagner and Laxalt jumping from the GOP. “I too am frustrated with the party!” she wrote in boldface type.
“There have been a lot of stupid comments by men in power, locally and nationally, that reflect disrespect toward women and it’s ticking me off!” she continued.
She elaborated further: “It’s the hypocrisy on social issues that really frustrate old school Republicans like me. The GOP is the party that stands for less government intervention in your life, yet so many current leaders are advocating for the government to regulate who you can marry and how many kids you can have. This makes no sense. These are personal choices that the GOP has historically said are your choices, not the government’s.”
Is Randy going to follow Laxalt and Wagner into a non-partisan oblivion? No.
“If I leave the party because I don’t like the direction it’s going I’m letting (the zealots) win,” she wrote.
“Our job as “pro-choice” women … is to stay and fight for the core values of the GOP: smaller government, fiscal restraint and self-empowerment. We cannot let those one-issue voters dictate our agenda” she concluded.
Jim Geraghty of the National Review expressed Randy’s point as a general principle applicable to both major political parties: “Remember, Obama’s coalition is just as much of a coalition. There’s really no reason for Colin Powell and Markos Moulitsas to like the same guy, nor Warren Buffet and Elizabeth Warren, nor Jim Matheson and Nancy Pelosi. Political parties are always going to be exercises in coalition-building and faction-pacifying.”
Sage observation! I don’t see the GOP going away any time soon with folks like Randy standing ready to fight for those core values.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.