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America desperately needs credible conservative opposition

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

In a recent letter to this forum, Mr. Wiles lamented that the GOP has not "revealed a bold breath-taking economic plan" and has not gone on the "offensive." In my view, the reason for this is that the Republican Party is lacking leadership and that it is waging war within itself.

The problem is the ever-worsening ideological extremism that has captured the party. The influence of the Tea Party and the religious far right has essentially split the GOP organization. There is a divide between those who think moderates are not conservative enough and those who think radicals are not inclusive enough.

The radicals believe in a brand of invalidation. They seek to invalidate the legitimacy of Obama's two election victories, some tried to invalidate the president's Americanism. They seek to invalidate a health care law that was passed in Congress and signed by the president and that they lack the support to repeal. They seek to invalidate climate change by claiming it doesn't exist. Many radicals would invalidate science itself when data and facts contradict their theology-like ideology.

Republican moderates believe the GOP should be a broad national party, reaching to diverse constituencies, taking positions Republicans have historically taken such as openness to immigration, significant health care reform, civil rights and voting rights, support of collective bargaining and protection of the environment. Radicals believe that these views by the moderates would lead the GOP in ways that would destroy their narrow vision of America.

Wiles, Earle and others of the far-right need to stop talking to themselves. They have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with them on every issue. It's apparent that Mr. Wiles has strong political views, and while I can admire his strong opinions, his admonishment not to "move toward a more moderate approach" will disadvantage the Republican Party and strengthen the resolve of liberal Democrats. With this arrogant all or nothing attitude, he and other like-minded extremists will be witnessing Hillary being sworn in as our 45th President.

Our nation needs a strong conservative Republican Party, but what we've been witnessing in recent years is a dangerous shift to the far right. Moderate Republicans and independent voters see the party as out of touch with the electorate and determined to maintain a strangle hold on the country in a backwards, unprogressive way. In large part, these voters agree with the party on its nominally austere fiscal policy, but they are also socially liberal. Issues such as gay marriage, abortion, health care, and international cooperation force them to turn to the Democratic Party, and even there they may not find what they're hoping for.

Moderate conservatives must retake the Republican Party from the extremists. America desperately needs a serious, thoughtful, credible 21st-century "conservative" opposition to "liberal" views and actions. They must organize, reassess, and recognize the need to evolve on social issues if they are going to connect with the electorate.

As a nation, we are not going to make any progress on our biggest problems without compromise between the center-right and the center-left. But for this to happen, we need the center-right conservatives, not the extremists to be running the GOP.

Unless the GOP can distinguish who their real enemy is, they just might be on the road to finishing off what is left of the Grand Ol' Party.

L. J. Siden