Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Needed: Soul-Searching in the GOP

Politics doesn't stop at the end of elections. Even before Senator Obama has been inaugurated, Republican politicians are regrouping on the ashes of the McCain campaign, hoping to rise pheonix-like for 2012. In particular, Governor Sarah Palin is getting more media attention than the president-elect - and that is an achievement. For a vice-presidential candidate carefully kept within closed doors, Sarah Palin sure is making the interview rounds this week. Her ambition is startling to behold; as palpable as her newfound respect for Hillary Clinton is strategic. "I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation," said Palin at the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami on Wednesday. She left little doubt that she would like to be asked to head the GOP ticket in 2012, and if asked she would gladly oblige.

Sarah Palin is here to stay, but Republicans will do well to replace her with a Bobby Jindal or a Tim Pawlenty. Not that she is too - and we have heard this charge used before against Hillary Clinton - polarizing, but that she represents a repudiated ticket. The American people have delivered a stinging rejection of the McCain-Palin ticket, and this post-election Palinmania is nothing more than the last grumblings of a nostalgic conservative base wishfully thinking that an authentic conservative such as Palin could have won this year. This is stubborn and out-dated thinking, an unproductive "what-if" counterfactual that will only hinder the Republican party's ability to move on.

The GOP must do a soul-searching post-mortem of the elections, and then exorcize all that contributed to their losing streak in the last two years. Looking to the past will be no help to the party's future. Instead GOP leaders should look to Obamcans for clues for how to navigate our new political era: moderate Republicans such as Chuck Hagel, Ken Duberstein, Paul O'Neill, William Weld, Susan Eisenhower, and Colin Powell can help massage the Party back to the middle when Sarah Palin will only drag the party back to the deep end. When once liberals had to fight to win back the Reagan Democrats, now conservatives must fight to win back the Obamacans. Over is the Age of Reagan; this is the Age of Obama.


Anonymous said...

Silly post, because:
1) if Obama fails the Republicans will win no matter how bad their candidate is.
2) if Obama succeeds the Republicans will lose no matter how good their candidate is.
So why bother to move to the center?

Moreover, I think both Prof. Lim and the "base" commit the common error of assuming that just because someone (here, Sarah Palin) is nasty and polarizing she is a true conservative.

The woman raised taxes as mayor AND as governor; if she's a conservative so is Obama!

Elvin Lim said...

The complexion of how Obama fails (or succeeds) - who takes the blame, what policies he proposes fails, what explantions for his failure prevails - all this will determine whether or not the Republicans launch a credible counter-offensive in 2012. Presidential success or failure isn't a willy-nilly function of what _they_ do, but also framed in terms of reactions to these perceived failures. Recognizing this, the Republicans / conservatives know better than to just stand there and wait for the president to fail or succeed. Rush Limbaugh has conceded as much.