March 9, 2009

Hooray For Meghan McCain

The Republican Party needs a new direction and a new leader. Meghan McCain is obviously not that person, but I could live with her being a minor figurehead. Especially after she drops this bomb -- her beef with Ann Coulter. She is also an able writer, as here, when she explains why Coulter is poison to the party's long-term health:
I have been a Republican for less than a year. Still, even after losing the election, I find myself more drawn to GOP ideals and wanting to fight for the party’s resurgence. And if figureheads like Ann Coulter are turning me off, then they are definitely turning off other members of my generation as well. She does appeal to the most extreme members of the Republican Party—but they are dying off, becoming less and less relevant to the party structure as a whole. I think most people my age are like me in that we all don’t believe in every single ideal of each party specifically. The GOP should be happy to have any young supporters whatsoever, even if they do digress some from traditional Republican thinking.
Of course, those same red Kool-Aid drinkers who I called on the carpet for behaving exactly like members of a cult towards Rush Limbaugh aren't going to like this any better. Those types can't see past my criticism, and Michael Steele's criticism, of Limbaugh to understand that in reflexively defending him they're letting themselves be played for chumps. Which is exactly how Michael Steele got schooled by the White House.

Ms. McCain has a different soapbox and not the same pressures; she is free to say what she wishes and has no particular constituency to please. The Kool-Aid drinkers will be quick to castigate her (just as such of their number who read this blog will be quick to castigate me for supporting her). But no fan of orthodoxy am I and neither should they be. Call me a RINO if you wish. Call me a liberal if you wish. (See my "FAQ" in the right-hand column for my opinion on your attaching such labels to me.)

The fact of the matter is, playing the "more-conservative-than-thou" game has been a box office bust for several years now and it's high time that politicians in the Republican party realized this. It's about good policy. It's about finding a way to make the government work while keeping it off of peoples' backs. It's about fiscal responsibility -- and finding a way to recover the party's credibility on that issue after Bush the Younger totally blew it. It's about what America's future is going to look like, not pining after some mythical past that never really existed in the first place.

Which is why Meghan McCain's voice is one I welcome to the Republican Reboot debate:
Many say I am not “conservative enough,” which is something that I am proud of. It is no secret that I disagree with many of the old-school Republican ways of thinking. One of the biggest issues from which I seem to drift from the party base is in my support of gay marriage. I am often criticized for previously voting for John Kerry and my support of stem-cell research. For the record, I am also extremely pro-military and a big supporter of the surge and the Iraq war.
I'm with you, Meghan. Although I didn't vote for Kerry, I was totally a Badnarik man in '04.

The thing that the Kool-Aid drinkers don't understand, and because of the rigidity of their brains cannot understand, is that these sorts of disagreements and debates are good for a political party. What, exactly is being a Republican all about anyway? Is it about conformity to a social norm of sexual behavior? Because that's how some Republicans have been acting, and it's never particularly good politically to tell people they can't get laid. Is it about small government? If so, we need to have a reconciliation of the party to that ideal after eight years of the decidedly big-government governing techniques of the immediate past president. Ditto that for fiscal resonsibility. Is it about having a strong, powerful military? I tend to think so, although it seems that many Republicans are more concerned about using overt love of the military as a talisman rather than a guide to policy.

I've been forthright about what I think we ought to be doing and saying. Both in terms of generalized principles (a commitment to Constitutional principles, having a strong military and exercising restraint in its use, free trade and strong dollars, binding ourselves to fiscal responsibilty, and envisioning the government as the guarantor of individual freedoms) and specific kinds of policies that grow out of those principles (see my "Ten Planks" post from just before the election) I've put my ideas out there. And I know I'm not the only one putting ideas like these out there. The young, wealthy and attractive (yet oddly single) Ms. McCain is a voice that at least harmonizes with my own. So does Mark Sanford's. On the blogosphere, Doug Mataconis and Rick Moran are more likely to elicit a "right on" than a "whatchu talkin 'bout" from me.

The social conservatives aren't going to go away, though, and the more libertarian and economic-minded Republicans closer to the camp that I find more comfortable are going to have to find a way to reconcile with them. The alternative is a schism or worse yet, the Democrats co-opting a lot of the types who feel the way I do. I can't imagine that the Democratic Party would be a comfortable fit for me -- yes, I'm pro-choice and pro-same-sex-marriage, but I'm far too much of a military hawk, a great critic of social welfare programs, and very critical of the spendthrift ways the new Administration has shown. And those issues are simply more important to me than the social ones which the Rush Cultists hold near and dear to their hearts, and cannot for the life of them understand why others do not.

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