The Road Less Travelled and a tale of the Middle PathPosted: January 8, 2013
Siddartha heard the teacher say “if you wind the string too tight it will break and if you have the string too loose, there will be no music”. On hearing these words, Siddartha came to the realisation of the middle way of life – it must be neither strict and nor undisciplined.
Every culture has its stories and metaphors. The story of the music teacher on tuning is a famous one for those on the Buddhist path. Like all stories with morals, they usually apply to things way beyond any spiritual path. This is a good one for a set of folks that haven’t been on any kind of a spiritual path–let alone a middle one–for some time. In Buddhism, there is no permanent soul. In the Republican Party, there is agonizing soul-searching from people who may have misplaced theirs.
I offer you a few tales of the Lost Middle Path.
Here’s a name you may not have heard about recently but one that you will know well if you are of a certain age. Michelle Cottle at TDB writes “Mosbacher: I’m Furious at My Own Party”. Some people don’t worry so much about losing their souls or their way. They respond a little more to losing their donor base.
Best not to ask GOP fundraising legend Georgette Mosbacher about the state of her beloved party unless you want an earful. The co-chair of the RNC’s Finance Committee (and CEO of Borghese cosmetics), Mosbacher is “mad as hell” about the myriad ways the “brand has been tarnished”: the sorry state of the presidential primary process, the ongoing alienation of Latino voters, the “outrageous” Senate candidates that the party ran this cycle, the epic failure of the fiscal-cliff negotiations, and, most recently, the House’s dithering over disaster aid for the victims of superstorm Sandy.
“I’m angry!” fumes Mosbacher. “I’m angry about the stupid mistakes that were self-inflicted.” It’s this last part she finds the most enraging. Though she believes the party has “unfairly” been defined by its recent mistakes, she is very clear about where the ultimate blame lies: “We did it to ourselves.”
Mosbacher is, of course, not alone in her ire. Postelection, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a hastily assembled group of Republican leaders laboring to figure out where the party went wrong last cycle and how to get it back on track. So far, however, Mosbacher is unimpressed by their efforts.
“I have not seen an honest postmortem assessment yet,” she told me. “I have not seen anything that gives me any comfort right now.”
This is an unfortunate development for the GOP, because, as Mosbacher explained it to me this weekend: “I’m not writing any checks, and I’m not asking anyone else to write any checks until I hear something that makes sense to me.”
The root problem, as she sees it: the sorry state of the party’s leadership in Washington.
Take the implosion of certain Senate candidates, she says. “One or two bad apples—excuse the cliché—really can spoil the whole thing. But it’s incumbent on our leadership to know who those are. Don’t tell me these people didn’t know who they were before they spewed their nonsense.” Mosbacher grows increasingly agitated. “How did they get this far? Where was the leadership to stop that?”
Ah, yess, Georgette! It’s just a few bad apple that slipped by the DC leadership. Have you put on your Gucci pantsuit recently and talked to your insurrectionist, christofascist, gun loving, nutter grass roots recently? Ever been to a party convention overrun by folks sent by Pat Robertson’s goons and the local KKK?
The Republican Main Street Partnership, a Washington-based group that has promoted moderate GOP lawmakers and policies, will remove the word “Republican” from its title and welcome center-right Democrats in 2013, Yahoo News has learned.
The organization’s board of directors voted Tuesday morning to scrap party identification from its title and be known simply as “The Main Street Partnership.” The group’s new president, former Ohio Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette, told Yahoo News that he plans to begin conversations with Blue Dog Democrats and centrist groups in the coming months.
“The goal is to try and fill the void that is the middle,” LaTourette, who resigned from Congress this year, said. “The American political system is like a doughnut: You’ve got sides, but you don’t have anything in the middle, and it would be my goal to work with Republicans and Democrats who want to find the path forward to getting things done and compromise.”
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, LaTourette added: “While we have changed our name, we have not changed our values or our mission. We will continue to be a right of center organization and continue to represent the governing wing of the Republican Party.”
The Main Street Partnership will also expand its super PAC, Defending Main Street, to aid center-right members of both parties, LaTourette said, adding, “It’s not going to be focused so much on party as it is on protecting people from the right and left extremes if they choose to do the right things.”
So, does any of this make sense or will it work? Can the Republican party be reformed or will some other solution to its extremism emerge? Who are the “Holy Grail of Voters according to the NJ?
What has happened is that the gap between the share of voters who identify themselves as Democrats compared with those who consider themselves Republicans has grown so wide that, for the GOP, winning a majority of the independent vote nationally is necessary but no longer sufficient for winning a national popular vote. In this past election, 38 percent of voters called themselves Democrats, and just 32 percent called themselves Republicans. In 2008, it was Democrats at 39 percent and Republicans at 32 percent. Over the past five elections, only in 2004 were the two parties evenly matched at 37 percent each. In the other four elections, the Democratic advantage has been 4 points in 2000 (when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College), 5 points in 1996, 6 points in 2012, and 7 points in 2008. This is certainly one reason why Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the past six elections; generally there are more Democrats than Republicans. When the gap gets really wide, independents can’t make the difference.
Similarly, in those past five elections, Democrats have won between 81 and 89 percent of the vote of self-described liberals (averaging 86 percent), while Republicans have won between 72 and 84 percent of self-described conservatives (averaging 80 percent).
Why Republicans tend to stick together a bit more than Democrats—and why liberals tend to vote a little more for Democrats than conservatives do for Republicans—is anyone’s guess.
So if Democrats can reliably count on winning the lion’s share of the votes of Democrats and liberals while Republicans can be equally assured of the support of Republicans and conservatives, the question that arises is whether it’s independents or moderates that are decisive.
Hmmm, where are reasonable to go? Certainly not to today’s Republican party. But, the democratic party’s been pretty worthless too. Excuse me while I go check google maps for the location of the middle path in America. I’m certainly not going to ask Georgette to come out of her shoe closet long enough to figure out what’s gone wrong with the Republican party. I’m also not looking towards the current administration to tell me why it can’t even support policies that Nixon, Eisenhower, Ford and Reagan would’ve found reasonable, let alone the roster of Dem presidents that surrounded them. Now, where’s that damn path!
In Dick Armey’s world, Democrats want abortion to be as available as pay-per-view movies.
The former House Republican Majority Leader and former Freedom Works chairman insisted on Tuesday that the left wants “abortion on demand” during a discussion on Hardball about the divisions in the GOP.
Armey acknowledged there had been several “foolish mistakes” the GOP made during the campaign season, including Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47%. He insisted the party was trying to “rediscover its relationship” with constitutional limitations on big government and fiscal responsibility.
Host Chris Matthews asked why, if the Republicans are really the party of limited government, does the party have its candidates trying to get rid of contraception, and outlaw gay marriage and abortion. “Why don’t you stay out of people’s lives if you really wanted limited government?” asked Matthews.
The former lawmaker insisted that there were simply a few bad apple candidates, just like the Democrats have “had a few rather strange people” too. When Matthews pointed out the GOP platform includes items about personhood and contraception, Armey insisted the Democrats also have “unusual” and “strange” items in their platform.
“Name one,” Matthews challenged.
“Homosexual marriage, all right. Abortion on demand,” Armey shot back. “These issues are in your platform. You don’t think it’s strange for these issues to be in your platform pointing in one direction, but you consider it outrageous that the other party has the same issues pointing in the another direction in their platform.”
Matthews responded, saying “The Democratic party generally supports Roe vs. Wade. It does not support ‘abortion on demand,’” adding the issue of gay marriage is going to be decided state by state, not nationally.