What Comes Next for Republicans (and please don't let it be Palin)?

I would like to think of myself as a conservative. Back in the day, I was a solid Republican, before joining the Republican Party was about a litmus test on issues like abortion. When I say I was a conservative, it doesn't mean I was a screaming Rush Limbaugh type looney, or a bible thumping Bush lover, or a Lou Dobbs death to all immigrants maniac. No, there are very few contemporary politicians who I can identify as solid conservative idols, maybe (strangely enough) it would be a guy like John McCain, if you ignore the Iraq issue. If I would identify with one modern politician, it would be a different Arizona senator, Barry Goldwater, though arguments exist as to whether he would be the conservative conscience he was if he were alive today.

The Bush years saw me slowly float away from the Republican Party, to the point where it is no longer recognizable to me. It is now a party of hate, a party full of jackals who are isolationist, war-mongering, Jesus-freak anti-intellectuals. Some will not appreciate this characterization of the party, but can you really disagree with it. (President) Barack Obama was portrayed as an elitist for his Harvard law degree (with honors) and his U of Chicago professorship, but they forgot that he IS the American dream. President Obama didn't get to where he was because of affirmative action, he did so because of a close knit family (even though he was from a single mother) and through his own hard work (Bill Clinton's another Democratic example of this). George Bush, on the other hand, was famously "born on third base, thinking he hit a triple."

The fact that the Republican "base" was so energized by Palin, who could see Russia from Alaska, had no clue what the Bush doctrine was, and who didn't know Africa was a continent, is extremely worrying. As it comes out more and more that even McCain's campaign aides were referring to the Palins as "Wasilla hillbillies", one has to wonder what led McCain to foisting this mental midget on the US populace. Palin must go away, for the good of us all, but it seems that she is a damn good politician and, depending on how her Pretty Woman shopping spree turns out, she may not be as buried as most of us hope. If Palin isn't left for dead, the foreign policy experience and leadership skills that she lacks are things she can work on in the next few years to make herself into a more serious candidate. Will the GOP accept her mediocrity again? Will they finally realize that while being an elitist is a bad thing, being part of the intellectual elite is not?

Further, will the "Party of Lincoln" go back to being that? Will it be about small government and a strong nation, instead about abortion and immigration? In Tucker Carlson's Slate commentary on what the GOP needs to do, he states:

Social conservatives, a group in which I count myself, might profitably meditate
on how to disentangle our primary political goal—the protection of the
unborn—from secondary issues like, say, abstinence-only education and the debate
over evolution and intelligent design, which dovetail too easily with
caricatures of religious fundamentalism (as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin both
discovered in the media coverage of their campaigns).

Tucker, is your bow tie on too tight? I agree, that the GOP needs to stay away from the "secondary" issues which make it easy to show you all to be insane. That said, since when is social conservatism defined solely by abortion? This is exactly what the GOP needs to get away from. Being a Republican should be about small government that stays out of your life and fiscal responsibility, it should not be a litmus test over a single issue. Anyways, doesn't this legislating what others can and can't do fly in the face of true conservatism?

After the Kerry defeat it seemed like the Democratic Party couldn't get any lower, how on earth could they have lost to Dubya? How does the Republican Party come back from this? It seems that the great divide in the Party, between the religiously charged "base" and the corporatism of the leadership, is worse than ever before. They need to unite again, find a way, a candidate, and a leader to pull back the "Obama Republicans" that allowed President Obama to win solidly Republican states like Indiana. It's not an easy task.

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