Monday, May 21, 2007

Seeking failure: In Centrist California, Republican Party moves further right.

The Republican Party in California seems intent to doom itself to failure, in this long, but absolute must-read, from Bill Bradley:

The Republican Party in California is in a very odd position. Even as it has a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has won two landslide elections in a row and boasts a 62% job approval rating for his centrist approach, the party leadership has moved to the far right.

Unlike most Republican voters, according to many polls, these new leaders not only oppose any increase in the minimum wage, but the existence of the minimum wage. “The minimum wage is socialism,” says Fleischman.

They oppose Schwarzenegger’s environmental programs, in particular his drive to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and, in most cases, deny that the greenhouse effect exists. Again, in stark contrast to the views of most Republican voters.

When vitriolic right-wing columnist Ann Coulter called Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, these worthies did not join the chorus of criticism that included all the mainstream Republican presidential candidates.

Asked about that, Fleischman said: “That’s a national issue. We focus on state issues.” Yet his publication featured glowing reports from the conference and he and his bloggers regularly opine about all sorts of national issues.

When Schwarzenegger called Rush Limbaugh “irrelevant” during an appearance on the Today Show, prompting a brief war of words with the gasbag ideologue, the Flash Report sided with Limbaugh over the Republican governor, dubbing the right-wing radio talk show host “America’s Anchorman.”

After a period in which party leadership embraced appeals to independent voters, the fastest growing segment of voters in the state, key to Schwarzenegger’s two victories, the new party leadership wants to ignore them, banning them from participating in next year’s early presidential primary.

“I will order that the primary ballot go to independent voters,” vowed Nehring in a meeting with political reporters after taking over as state party chairman in February. But he didn’t have the authority to do that under party rules, and has not moved to change the rules.

“I don’t know how you function as a modern political party in California without reaching out to independent voters,” says former party chairman Sundheim. He has pushed for their inclusion in the presidential primary.

But the vicars of the far right will have none of it. The bloggers crusade relentlessly against it. As Fleischman puts it: “Only Republicans should decide who our candidates are. If they want to vote in our primary, they should become Republicans.”

It’s an attitude that Democrats adore. “We want independents to vote in our primary,” says strategist Roger Salazar. “Let those guys have their little conservative clubhouse if they want.”

Emphasis mine. Bill Bradley then mentions the wide gap between the far right Republican Party leadership and Republican voters on the issues of global warming and the environment:

As the far right party leaders carp about Schwarzenegger, they are frequent fliers in the face of the views of actual Republican voters. Nowhere is this more evident than on the global warming issue.


Schwarzenegger’s environmental polices are overwhelmingly supported by Republican voters, 63% to 19%, in polling late last year by the widely respected Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Schwarzenegger’s own private polls, of course, show much the same thing.

A PPIC poll over the summer showed 62% support among Republicans for unilateral state action, independent of the federal government, to control greenhouse gases leading to climate change and global warming. Only 33% were opposed.

71% of Republicans backed the already existing state law to require automakers to to sharply curtail tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases in upcoming models of motor vehicles. 82% of Republicans back the government spending more money to develop alternative energy sources for motor vehicle fuels.

82% of Republicans want the government to spend more money on developing developing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels.

On the specifics of the Schwarzenegger plan on greenhouse gases, 65% of Republicans favor the rollback of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. 69% of Republicans favor the mandatory emission limits being applied to electric power, oil, and natural gas facilities.

Part of the reason for the Democrats continued victories in California is due to the ineptness of their opposition.

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