How to Win Back the WestNovember 8, 2008
Ryan Sager writes in the NYPost about how to win back the west.
FORTY-FOUR years after another maverick Arizona senator lost in a landslide, giving birth to the modern conservative movement, the Reagan coalition appears to be withering and dying. California was lost in the 1990s, and now the rest of the West is slipping – or has perhaps already slipped – away. The deep South remains – but is only enough to leave the Republicans as a permanent minority party.
Cast your eyes to the interior West, once a solid Republican region. Barack Obama turned a large swath of it blue. New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada all went big for him, after President Bush won them in 2004.
New Mexico (Bush by 1 point) went Obama by 15 points. Colorado (Bush by 5 points) went Obama by 7 points. Nevada (Bush by 3 points) went Obama by 12 points. (Obama also came within a remarkable 3 points in Montana, where Bush won by 20 points in 2004.)
So where does the Republican Party go from here? Three options present themselves at this early date:
* The Palin Plan: While Sarah Palin proved toxic among independent voters, a segment of the right seems ready to retrench and make her their standard bearer. While there’s an argument to be made for her small-government credentials, her blatant appeal to cultural division and the GOP base’s basest instincts – not to mention her profound ignorance on, currently, all matters – makes her the least base-broadening party leader imaginable.
* The Huckabee Diet: Mike Huckabee’s late surge in the GOP primary left no one in doubt – this guy will be back. Under a Huckabee-style GOP, the Republican Party would shed its last vestiges of concern over the size of government (some would argue it already did this under Bush), marrying Christian conservatism to economic populism.
Electorally, this would essentially mean trading any last chances out in the growing, libertarian West for a shot at a revival in the dying industrial Midwest.
* The Bloomberg Scenario: Sure, he’s not even a Republican anymore – and, like Batman, he’s needed urgently by Gotham. But he – or someone like him, with profound credibility on the economy and as a reformer – could plot a plausible path back for the GOP.
Someone in this mold could articulate the GOP commitment to low taxes and a dynamic economy, move the party’s energy policy beyond “drill, baby, drill” and reach out to the more cosmopolitan voters (Hispanics, the less religious; suburban and urban Americans) without whom the Republican Party will quite literally grow old and die.
Such a leader wouldn’t be as popular down South as a Palin or a Huckabee, but could revive the party in the West and perhaps even bring it back from the dead in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast.
This may not sound much like the conservative movement or the Republican Party as we’ve known it since Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run. That’s because it’s not.
That conservatism had a nice 44-year run. It’s time to build a new one.
I’d also like to add that if John McCain retires in two years, Rep. Flake should run for that spot. In light of his recent article, I’d like to see some new conservatism rise in the west