Monday, March 9, 2009

Progressive Republicans

Meghan McCain is in the news today with her essay and comments on Ann Coulter.

Ms. McCain minces no words, saying, "I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time."

Ann Coulter, of course, is a right-wing shock jock (or "gyno-jock," if that's more politically-correct), and
Ms. McCain's attack on her is clearly a strawman.

But the slam on Coulter is the peripheral issue here: What's important is Ms. McCain's message on today's GOP. She argues, for example, that "President Obama has successfully established himself as the hippest politician around," and "being a Republican is about as edgy as Donny Osmond."

Ouch! And furthermore:

I consider myself a progressive Republican ....

I’m often criticized for not being a “real” Republican, and I have been called a RINO—Republican In Name Only—in the past. 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 am sure most extreme conservatives and extreme liberals would find me a confusing, walking contradiction. But I assure you, there are many people out there just like me who represent a new, younger generation of Republicans. It took me almost two years of campaigning across this country and hanging out, on a daily basis, with some of the most famous and most intelligent Republicans to fall in love with the Republican Party. If it took that much time and exposure for me to join the party, how can GOP leaders possibly expect to reach young supporters by staying the course they have been on these past eight years?
Coming from the daugther of the 2008 GOP nominee, this critique should be given some consideration. This meme is also important in the context of Ms. McCain's earlier argument that Republicans are simply not as tech-savvy in info-mobilization and mass-technology politics.

Certainly, to me, the notion of "progressive Republcans" is a contraction in terms. Even Edmund Burke said conservatives must adapt to change, but change must follow tradition and presumption, and society can't change for change's sake. I get this feeling from Ms. McCain and others that they favor progressive policies as a matter of electoral expedience - even "hipness" - not according to whether such change best advances and protects humankind's most imporant spiritual and material interests. Does "progressive conservatism" truly extend and preserve freedom? Does this new GOP paradigm get back to the constitutional roots of limited government? Indeed, can the Republican Party survive as an electoral alternative if it simply apes the popularity and social mores of the current party-in-power, a true progressive apparatus that's likely to destroy America's historic foundations of individualism and egalitarianism in the private sphere?

There are
a number of commentators making a similar case to Meghan McCain's (some more intellectually honest than others, ahem...). On top of that, we've got the news today that Nancy Reagan is backing President Obama's stem-cell policy. We also have the story that the number of Americans identifying themselves as Christian has dropped substantially over the last generation. I'm sure I could find other examples of cultural and generational changes that are likely to pose problems for the GOP in terms of forming stable, long-term winning coalitions.

I'm waiting to hear back from Robert Stacy McCain about all of this. McCain's been
making the case that Barack Obama's economic policies will fail, and Republicans will be positioned sooner rather than later for a return to power, in Congress and perhaps the executive. But a lasting Republican electoral model needs to be more than about protecting the interests of "economic man." The roots of conservatism are found in traditions and institutions that limit governmental power and unlock the potential of the individual.

All this talk about "progressive Republicans" is unappealing, if not a little worrying. Ann Coulter's
publicity gimmicks are the least of the conservative movement's problems problems right now.

11 comments:

JBW said...

See, I told you that gay marriage was a generational issue. Even the young conservative daughter of your presidential candidate supports it (full disclosure: Meghan McCain was my secret conservative crush during the presidential campaign but I have a new one now). Just keep aging, neocon dinosaurs.

Donald Douglas said...

"Just keep aging, neocon dinosaurs."

It's not an age issue, JBW, it's a moral and political issue.

Libby said...

...i hafta kind of agree with a lot of her opinions...i guess i'm a lot more middle-of-the-road than a lot of Republicans...

Donald Douglas said...

You're funny, Libby!

Stogie said...

The McCains were a poor choice for our President and First Lady. Being a "progressive" Republican is to merely be a Democrat-lite. The McCains lack moral clarity and possessed of an ambiguous ideology.

I will never support them again.

Ann Coulter is a shock jock of sorts, and sometimes she goes too far. But she is very funny and right on in her condemnation of the fallacies of liberalism. I am a fan.

Dave said...

Meghan McCain is the poster girl for all that is wrong with the current Republican Party. The dems are are now pressing against the left field fence to the point that, should they go any further, they will have to buy tickets.

The republicans are aimlessly milling about center-field at the moment, still apparently clueless as to why they got their clock's cleaned in '06 as well as last November.

Republicans win when they run "real" conservatives, not RINO imposters. George Bush was a liberal, which was why he was barely able to squeak past lefties in '00 and '04 who, by most accounts, are both more than a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

McCain was even further left than GWB, and he got clobbered by a mysterious, devout communist that no one had even heard of three years ago.

Admittedly, the Organizer had a lot of help from the freedom-hating, dictator-loving MSM, but Ronald Reagan was hated by these same brainless bozos as well, yet he got his message out.

We don't need two democrat parties, which is what we have had since about 1997. Sure, the republicans managed to tighten up a little against Billy Jeff, but then went batsh*t nuts once GWB landed in the White House and promptly flushed his veto pen down the toilet.

I had hoped that Michael Steele might actually recognize the problem with his party and start drumming the RINOs out, but it now appears that isn't going to happen, as he seems as clueless as the rest.

How sad for the future of our dying republic.

-Dave

Pat Houseworth said...

McCain, like her dad, isn't really a Conservative, and would feel much better admitting they are in bed with the DNC.

JBW said...

On the unofficial behalf of the DNC, I volunteer to get in bed with Meghan McCain. Let's bridge that aisle together, honey.

Anonymous said...

Well, call me a snob, but if she finds Ann Coulter 'confusing', I'm not sure how to be motivated to take anything else she has to say seriously. But that's just me.

As far as Obama being hip, she has a point. When 'our guy' Michael Steele is calling for a 'hip hop revolution' in the Republican Party and sending out 'Slumdog love' to Bobby Jindal...Houston, we have a PROBLEM!!!! But Meghan McCain is not the solution, to be sure.

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Anonymous said...

Today's young progressive was manufactured and programed like a robot in Americas elite schools. Even Harvard has the reputation fo producing the most radical progressives. That is why the Dems
keep throwing the arts tons of money. Today's graduate is indoctrinated in a liberal ideology which produces what we have today. Lets face it the educational system is 95% liberal and thy can help themselves with such tender minds. You have been used! Ask a graduate a question about our constitution, you will be alarmed at how many can't answer. Yet ask the about Martin Luther King and they could tell you, maybe (if your lucky) that he was a Republican.