Past predictions of GOP’s demise way off

Posted by: ST on May 10, 2009 at 3:04 pm

 The Reagan White House’s political director Jeffrey Lord pens a piece in today’s Philly Inquirer that talks about how past predictions of the demise of the GOP have proven to be way off (via ST reader GWR):

A former GOP presidential nominee claims conservatives “want to drive all the moderates and liberals out,” which would mean that “the Democrats would win every election.” An ex-Republican National Committee chairman agrees, saying the party’s “image has been badly disfigured.” A rising-star moderate GOP congressman says his party is on its way to being “extinguished” and “reduced to ashes” by conservatives, adding that he sees it as his job “to help the GOP rebuild and to help give it proper direction.”

In a post-election book The Future of the Republican Party, a Washington journalist offers a startlingly bleak assessment, based on reams of data, and interviews with political scientists and Republican politicians. Republicans are doomed to lose at least the next six presidential elections in a row, he writes. The party is in “sad condition” and “grievously weakened” in the Northeast, the once solidly Republican New England states bolting to the Democrats. In the historically Republican Midwest, trouble brews. California is gone. In Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, “town and country; city and suburb; black and white; rich and poor; Catholic, Protestant and Jew” are lost.

The ex-nominee quoted here was New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey – in 1950, two years after the moderate lost his second run for the presidency. The national GOP chairman was Meade Alcorn, who ran the party from 1957 to 1959. The congressman? John Lindsay, who was elected mayor of New York in 1965, the same year Arlen Specter was elected district attorney of Philadelphia. Lindsay was denied renomination by the GOP in 1969, narrowly won reelection as the Liberal Party nominee, left the GOP to become a Democrat, and lost runs for president and senator.

The journalist was Robert Donovan, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. His book was published in December 1964.

Just like then, in the aftermath of the Specter switch to the Democrats, the media are predicting catastrophe for national and Pennsylvania Republicans. But there is remarkably little analysis of history in all this.

The next six presidential elections that Donovan saw as looming disasters? Five were won by Republicans. Beginning in 1976, when conservative Ronald Reagan challenged moderate GOP President Gerald Ford and lost, Republican presidential nominees who ran as moderates managed to lose Pennsylvania six out of six times. It was the conservative Reagan who won two back-to-back national landslides, carrying Pennsylvania twice. In 1980, Reagan won more Pennsylvania votes than moderate Senate candidate Arlen Specter, with whom he shared the ballot. George H. W. Bush, campaigning as Reagan’s heir, won Pennsylvania and the presidency in 1988 – yet lost both in 1992 after governing and running as a moderate.

Make sure to read the whole thing. 

There’s been a lot of talk about forming a “third party” because of the leftist direction the GOP has been headed the last several years. Some “Republicans” like Colin Powell are suggesting that the best way for the GOP to “become relevant” again is to acknowledge that people want “more government” in their lives, and say and/or imply that as a result, the GOP should modify their platform accordingly.  Others say the GOP must get back to its conservative principles. Do you feel at this point that that “fixing” the GOP is a hopeless task and that a third party is the best way to go, do you agree with Powell that the party must become “more moderate” in order to remain viable, or do you feel the best way for the party to repair and expand its political clout is for us to work within it to get it back on track – back to its conservative principles?

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.

RSS feed for comments on this post.


14 Responses to “Past predictions of GOP’s demise way off”


  1. BD57 says:

    I keep wondering what this “Republican Party without the icky social conservatives” would look like.

    What, exactly, would its platform be?

    “Fiscal responsibility”?

    Ummmmm – I’d be surprised if anyone believed them, both on the record of elected Republican Congressmen over the past decade and on the behavior of the so-called moderates since November 2008.

    The last straw for Pennsylvania Republicans with Specter wasn’t a social con issue – – – it was his vote on the ‘stimulus’ bill, which was bad economics and bad politics for Republicans (instead of voting “no” and keeping alive the chance of forcing Obama to the table, Specter caved … as usual).

    In short, Specter bailed because his position on economics & fiscal responsibility finally made him unacceptable to a majority of Pennsylvania Republicans …. and the so-called moderates blame the social cons?

    As for Colin Powell – – – does anyone care to argue that a “fiscal responsibility” focus, with or without social cons, is going to win the support of a man who says Americans want more government in their lives?

    “Strong National Defense?”

    These days, that would mean making forceful arguments for missile defense, expanding the size of the military, updating equipment, etc. – – – – at the very least, taking the Administration & Democrats on for their knee-jerk instinct to cut the defense budget & to argue that any exercise of American power in our national interest is somehow illegitimate.

    Someone will have to point out the so-called moderates who are willing to go there …. seems to me they take pride in not holding to any policy or position “ferociously” (other than their not liking people who do, that is).

    How, exactly, will this redefined Republican Party differ from Democrats on substance? How does forcing some of the parties most loyal & hard-working supporters out increase Republican numbers?

    Thus far, their response seems to be “trust me – the social cons are so icky that people will flock to us if we only get rid of them.”

  2. I think a third party would be a sure road to marginalization and the fractioning of American conservatism. It’s better to work from the inside to rebuild Republicanism around principles we can all agree on to rebuild a majority coalition. They key, I think, to reconciling the friction between social conservatives on the one hand and social moderates and libertarians on the other is to emphasize federalism: to recognize that no one paradigm fits nationally and that it’s best to leave these issues to the people through their state governments.

  3. Bachbone says:

    Third parties don’t win! It’s best to work within a party to pull it the direction you want it to go. But that can’t be done starting at the national level; it has to start lower and work its way higher. For example, the NEA encourages its activists to get on school boards to influence their issues. It would help tremendously if we had term limits for Congress, but once elected, everyone, regardless of party affiliation, seems to become infected with the “Ali (I’m the greatest) bug” and thinks Washington can’t survive without him/her.

    Gen. Powell is to be thanked for his militaty service to his country, but if one looks at his statements outside the military, it’s pretty clear he has not been a conservative. He has sometimes followed the president’s policy lines, but when speaking on his own, he’s clearly been for liberal causes. The MSM loves anyone who does or says anything that counters a conservative, so why is it a surprise this is “big news?”

  4. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    The GOP has suffered two blowout losses in a row, and is heading fot a third pasting in 2010 because of their terror of criticizing the Won. And that’s without accounting for what ACORN and the Holder Justice Department will do to the election system before then.

    If conservatives try to prop up the GOP all they will get is the back of the hand from the McCains of the party – and more McCains as the Republican standard bearer (look at what they have done to Sarah Palin). A third party is looking like the least worst option.

    That’s what this small-tent conservative thinks, anyway.

  5. forest hunter says:

    ….Some “Republicans” like Colin Powell are suggesting that the best way for the GOP to “become relevant” again is to acknowledge that people want “more government” in their lives,….

    Yeah… and I wanna have the mumps, measles and break my back again too, cuz it’s just so flippin rewarding! ….mebbe a nice case of Hog Flu to round out the endearing qualites of pain and suffering, to go along with it.

    The teated boars like Colin need to get out more….and take McStain and their version of Republicrats with him.

  6. BPT says:

    If the Republicans win Congress in 2010 will the elite media revise their Republican-Party-is-dead view? No. They really don’t believe the GOP is dead, unless they like talking to the dead. They are trying to discourage conservatives.

  7. NC Cop says:

    If the Republicans win Congress in 2010 will the elite media revise their Republican-Party-is-dead view? No. They really don’t believe the GOP is dead, unless they like talking to the dead. They are trying to discourage conservatives.

    Exactly! If the Republicans manage to win Congress 2010, which I think is unlikely, you can bet the accusations of “voter fraud” will come up. Whenever the dems win its “the voice of the people”, when the Repubs win, then there must be something wrong.

    If they do win it back, watch for heads to explode!!

  8. Lorica says:

    You all know that at one time the Republican party was a 3rd party right??? It was a Christian, Anti-slavery party, and won the presidency within 2 decades of it’s origin. And we need to get back to these principles.

    If a 3rd party is created and is based on common sense governance and conservative principles, it would be a major force in this country in just a matter of a few years.

    Now that being said, I am not advocating a switch as every “conservative” party out there has pretty weak leadership. What I believe is it is time to get back to the winning strategy of Ronald Reagan, and better smarter government. One that does not need 30 percent of GDP to survive. One that can keep a balanced budget, and maybe start paying back Social Security for all the years it raided it. – Lorica

  9. Lorica says:

    Rush just had a sound bite of Dick Cheney telling Bob Sheffer that he didn’t know Colin Powell was still in the Republican Party. Which echo my feelings completely. Why would I take the advice of a man who cannot even stand by his party when he was needed most. – Lorica

  10. Great White Rat says:

    Why would I take the advice of a man who cannot even stand by his party when he was needed most.

    Lorica, it depends on what the priorities are. Think of the war against terrorism. We all applauded Joe Lieberman when he stood by his country and not his party there.

    I’m an American first, then a conservative, and further down the list, a Republican. Standing by party is less important than standing by principles. That’s why some of us here opposed the Bush administration’s “immigration reform” a couple of years ago, for example.

    But to get back to the point of this article – Jeffrey Lord isn’t advocating a third party. He’s urging Republicans to hold fast to conservative principles and push that platform unapologetically, because it works. And he’s right. The GOP will lose as long until it is afraid to take on Obama with energy and passion.

    MD’s remarks about the integrity of the electoral system once ACORN and Holder’s DOJ get done with it (as well as the next census) also reflect my biggest concern. And that’s precisely why we need to take Lord’s advice now, before the leftist vote fraud surge becomes irreversible.

  11. forest hunter says:

    I, as many of us here are as GWR describes, Americans first and conservatives second.

    We are witnessing the bigest bait and switch gig ever played out (for the most part) in the public forum.

    Whatever boneheaded inanity is being done……..far more unscrupulous tactics are being done elsewhere…The latest case in point is the declared Pandemic (by a complete moron) that wasn’t, in order to jam that other crap down our throats…these opaque traitors are gonna try to get *US Americans* killed, one way or another.

    Wait till teh no0B truly NEEDS the troops!

  12. Lorica says:

    GWR, My question was rhetorical. I wouldn’t take Colin Powell’s advice, it is hard for me to listen to these goofballs, I am certainly not going to heed their advice.

    I agree with you about being an American 1st, I was right there with you all regarding immigration “reform”/amnesty. Even to the point where myself and Dear Sister were at odds with each other over the discussion. My thing was with it was that we could not trust Congress to do what was right about stopping illegals, how could we trust them to do the right thing regarding their citizenship??

    The Republican party needs to espouse more conservative principles, there is no doubt. We win when we do. Why would we do anything else??? – Lorica

  13. Carlos says:

    As Lorica points out, the Republican Party was once “the third party.” It was also the last successful third party, and that was over 150 years ago.

    If one wishes to start a third party, one must be willing to be hard in the mix over an extended period of time for there will be no immediate gratification. Do we have that kind of time left?

    Acorn, Holder et al are nothing more than points in a plan none will ever fully see in our lifetimes. Even if they fail or can be stopped now, they and their kind will keep pushing because they are (as Sowell calls them) “the Anointed” and only they know what’s best for us, results be damned.

    And finally, as far as I can tell only the media are saying conservatives want to “purge” the party of “moderates”. I’m not so hot to get rid of a significant portion of the party’s numbers, but why is it that, when sitting on the fence, they always seem to fall on the liberal side? Doesn’t exactly seem to me to be “sitting on the fence.” We welcome anyone. Just let those with the party “vision”, those with the party principles, do the deciding. If that’s too much to demand, then feel free to find another party to attend (and see how far you get with your wish list there).