Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Death of the Coalition?

Unlike many countries around the world, our political coalitions have been built within our two major political parties; as opposed to a coalition formed by many different parties. The Democrat coalition consists of Pro-Choicers, African Americans, gun control advocates, gay rights groups, feminists, anti-war groups, unions, just to name a few. The Republican coalition is made up of Pro-Lifers, religious groups, 2nd Amendment supporters, anti-taxers, small government advocates, military supporters and the list goes on and on. These coalitions form the backbone of our political parties. If a significant number left, neither party would have the support to function as it does today.

I have an ongoing debate with a fellow Republican in Roanoke City. This individual fashions himself as a kind of Republican gatekeeper, passing down judgment on who is and who is not a Republican. Those that do not pass the test are most commonly referred to as RINOs—or a Republican In Name Only. I was recently given this very title. I find all of this to be very divisive and destructive and not conducive to growing and strengthening our party. He and I disagree on that point.

There is indeed a movement on the Right to tear the Republican Party apart (look at how they are reacting to John McCain) and rebuild it in a more pure form. And of course, to be pure, the party must cleanse itself of anyone who does not meet the standards of a “true conservative”. Does this really make sense? I don’t think it does. Unless of course you want only a minority party that has no role in governing. But that’s not what I signed up for.

Take Jose. Jose is pro-life. He’s a gun owner. He believes in low taxes and smaller government. He home schools his children. Jose is a Republican. But Jose is also Hispanic. And he supports amnesty for illegal aliens, many of whom are his friends who have lived here for years. They are not just people caught on camera crossing the border some 2,000 miles away. Now, some would say there is no place for that belief in our party. They would say there is no place for Jose and would seek to cast him out. Where would he go? Most likely he would become an independent. Or he may even become a Democrat. But the bigger question is does casting someone like Jose out of our party make sense? Do we really need to build a coalition with people that we don’t agree with on every issue, only the vast majority of issues? I believe the answer is yes; we need those coalitions. Without them, the Republican Party will die.

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