Monday, May 18, 2009

Frank LoBiondo and the future of moderates in the Republican Party

Today's Sunbeam has a good article interviewing Frank LoBiondo and others on the future of centrists in the Republican Party. First, I agree with Leonard Lance that talk of the demise of the Republican party is "absolute nonsense." But let's go to the quotes from LoBiondo. Unfortunately, the links will die after a few weeks because the publisher does not think it is worthwhile to keep an archive accessible.

"The pendulum swings," LoBiondo said. "The Democrats went over the line, as far as voters were concerned, in the 90s. Republicans lost focus over the years when they were in the majority, and the pendulum swung back.

"From my perspective, with my colleagues, we get it. We understand the public is not happy with the initiatives the party took, and we are attempting to regroup. We are attempting to offer solutions to problems that are presented to us."

This is obviously the right strategy for both Republicans and the country. I must say I haven't seen much of it, but it's early days.

More interesting is his gentle criticisms of his conservative colleagues, who he says used to listen to him and other moderates but don't anymore:

Gradually, he said, things have changed, and today it seems like some Republicans want ideologically pure policies.

"That's not the way anything works," LoBiondo said. "If somebody wants to be ideologically pure 100 percent, and is comfortable with not being able to get anything done in a very weak minority, that's going to be the consequence."

Again, this is obviously true. Still, I wonder what he expected when he voted for Clinton's impeachment -- after polls showed people didn't want it and his fellow Republicans lost seats. Plainly he was just empowering the extremist factions in his party. Indeed, it's almost certain that moderates were included in important discussions in the early years after 1994 because Democrat Bill Clinton was President, not because LoBiondo's views were valued. I wonder if he realizes he murdered his faction's influence with decisions like these over the years.