I’m often asked by people – both Democrats frustrated that I won’t toe the party line and Republicans who are baffled that I still self-identify as a Democrat – why I don’t just ditch the party label and become a Republican.
(Note that this doesn’t just happen online; it happens in my real life as well.)
I’m pretty deeply attached to principles I see as fundamentally Democratic, and I’ve been a Democrat all my political life. But beyond that, I live in California, where our Republican Party is just – nuts.
Nuts and ineffective is, as Dean Wermer once famously said, no way to go through life, So I don’t spend a lot of time trying to constructively criticize the GOP, because I’m not very interested in it.
But in reality, I ought to be – and a Republican Party that would even tempt someone like me would probably be a pretty strong party electorally. And if we had two strong parties here in California, my lame-ass but beloved Democrats couldn’t get away with the nonsense they too-often peddle and would have to grow up.
Calbuzz (which was dinged during the election as a vehicle for pro-Brown, anti-Whitman stories) has a pretty darn sensible post up today about what the California GOP might to be relevant.
So that there is a vigorous contest of ideas in California politics. Right now, Republicans are so trapped in their ideological hall of mirrors that they have become a distorted caricature of themselves. They can thump their chests and win big attaboys at the California Republican Assembly convention. But they utterly fail to reflect the impulses of the vast majority of California voters who tend to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate.
Republicans believe in smaller government, lower taxes, reduced regulation, economic growth, individual freedom and law and order, to name a few GOP values.
They should continue to stand and fight for all of those. But they need to build all that into a platform that begins with a realistic growth agenda. Investments in roads, bridges, dams and/or levees, water projects, schools and universities, redevelopment projects, ports – all these things and more – are wholly consistent with their philosophical world view. Their fixation on opposing everything the Democrats propose is hurting them more than it is helping them.
Republicans could become leading advocates of an economic rebound strategy that relies on Silicon Valley innovation, green jobs, high-tech research and development. They could integrate this with increased exports for a growing agricultural sector and a healthy and expanding service economy.
They don’t have to continually serve the interests of the wealthiest 2% of California families – they can focus of the struggling middle class. And they need to remember that California is not Kentucky or Alaska or any other state where the so-called “tea party” is a big deal. In California, tea party ideology is a non-starter.
I pretty much agree except for the last point – note that the Tea Party/GOP candidate for Assembly in my district won in every city except Los Angeles. And I think that “tea party” ideology is far from formed at this point, so it’s more than a little premature to declare it dead anywhere.
Check it out.