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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-19-09 08:34 AM
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For GOP, "fueling anger is not a strategy"
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For GOP, Tea Protests Offer An Alluring, but Risky, Lifeline

By Dan Balz
Sunday, April 19, 2009


Once again, however, Republicans are in the wilderness. In the four years after George W. Bush won his second term as president, Republicans surrendered power in the House and the Senate and then gave up the White House. Their numbers have fallen not just in elected officials but among the rank and file; fewer people now identify themselves as members of the Grand Old Party.

The party is in decline, and the Southern-based conservatism that it projected has fallen into disfavor elsewhere. Beyond President Obama's electoral map, which turned red to blue in some surprising places, the Democrats' success in congressional and senatorial elections in 2006 and 2008 also speaks to the decline.


The Republican Party's road back requires reassembling its conservative base, which was badly fractured during the final years of Bush's presidency. But real success will require a new effort to reach beyond that base to disaffected moderate Republicans and especially to independent voters who have moved decisively in the direction of Obama and the Democrats.

The tea party protests offer the GOP an appealing lifeline, an energized cadre of indeterminate size. They may be a one-time phenomenon or the start of something larger. The potency of the Republican prescription of tax cuts and small government has lessened with the failures of the Bush years and the scope of the economic crisis. Can it be restored? Much depends on the success or failure of Obama's economic policies.

Republican leaders are gambling that Obama is making sizable miscalculations on the public's appetite for bigger government and bigger deficits. For now the president and his policies remain popular, but it is early in the experiment. Obama must be mindful of overreaching, a problem that has affected winning parties in the past. Republican leaders have seized on the tea protests as a sign that he is doing just that.

Given the state of the GOP, any sign of life in the coalition is alluring. The question is what Republicans have learned from their recent failures. How much do they acknowledge the limits of an anti-government message? How much do they acknowledge that the country that elected Obama president and gave Democrats their majorities in Congress has changed culturally and demographically from the one that gave Republicans their victories a decade ago?

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