Monday, March 12, 2007

The Kansa-fication of the Republican Party

Much is being made of a civil war within the Republican party. All I can say to the Johnny-come-lately's noticing the erupting schism between the religious right wing of the party and the moderate, libertarian/business wing of the party is this...

Welcome to Kansas.

The Kansas Republican party has been divided since the early 90's and it is finally collapsing under it's own weight. And not a moment to soon. I've had a front-row seat for a good part of it and even struck a couple of blows against them myself.

The revolt of the moderates has been well documented in the Kansas press. The civil war, as the local press refers to it, is between the moderate Tim Shallengerger wing of the Kansas Republican Party and the Mark Gietzen batshit-insane wing.

And now, the New York Times reports that the same phenomenon is occurring at the national party level as well. (Which, by the way, I commented on two days after the election.)
Even as Republican voters continued to support President Bush and the war in Iraq, including the recent increase in the number of American troops deployed there, they said a presidential candidate who backs Mr. Bush’s war policies would be at a decided disadvantage in 2008. And they suggested they were open to backing a candidate who broke with the president on a key aspect of his Iraq strategy. Asked what was more important to them in a presidential nominee, a commitment to stay in Iraq until the United States succeeds or flexibility about when to withdraw, 58 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters said flexibility about when to withdraw, versus 39 percent who said a commitment to stay until the United States succeeds.

The Kansas Republican Party is about six years ahead of the national party as far as their civil war is concerned. In Kansas it has progressed to the point where a moderate, common sense Republican can not get on the ballot in the general election. It has gotten to the point where the venerable Johnson County Sun endorsed a whole slate of Democrats this year, and it is a Republican Newspaper. For editor Steve Rose, the son of the papers founder, it was a bitter moment. The entire metro area went into shock at that editorial. Those of us who actually know Steve Rose are still picking our jaws up from the floor; and that column was printed a month before the midterm election.

My hope is that the Republican Party will rise from the ashes to once again represent the interests of the nation as a whole. The Republican Party that ascended from McCarthy and culminated in the spectacular train-wreck of the DeLay/Abramoff scandal is due to die the fiery death of a vampire in direct sunlight.

Let the flat-earthers go off and be marginal cranks on the loony fringe and good riddance to 'em. Only rid of them will the libertarian/business wing of the party have a prayer of restoring the lustre of the Republican party of my grandfather.


Diane Silver said...

Hey there, blue gal! thanks for the post. A couple of comments...

I know Tim Shallenburger from my days as a reporter in the Statehouse, and he isn't close to being moderate. The fact that the far right of the Kansas GOP is attacking him and calling him moderate is evidence of how they are to the far, far right of the mainstream. Their complaint against Shallenburger is that he was willing to talk to moderates and even include them in the party. How shameful of him! (note sarcasm.)

Meanwhile, I do wish I could believe that the Kansas Republican Party were collapsing into this schism. Alas, though, many moderate Republicans stay with the party. Until they either take over their old party, which may not be possible, or become Democrats, Kansas will never be able to truly move forward.

We are making progress in bringing moderate Republicans to the Democratic Party, but many still won't move. And so it goes...

Blue Girl, Red State said...

I guess I think of Shallenberger as a "moderate" because my measuring stick is Mark Gietzen - so odious a character that his priest (Father Charles O'Connor at St. Margaret-Mary on Patty St. in the 67218 zipcode) loathed him.

I told him in the auditorium of the parish school, when he announced his failed run for the state senate that i would see him in hell before I saw him in the Senate. he lost the primary in a landslide and I switched parties briefly to work against him, so deep is my loathing toward that man. It's personal - our children were classmates -

But yeah - by standards of sane people (i.e. not Gietzen) Shallenburger isn't in the same zip-code as moderate.

I adapted this from an earlier post right after the election that did a better job of making that point.