Saturday, February 17, 2007

Can Republicans Reign in Their Fringe?

At least 40% of Georgians define themselves as moderates who vote for the person rather than for the party. That block of voters includes some "issue"voters, but for the most part, they are folks who profess weariness with the "radical fringe" of either political party. Today, in Georgia and nationally, the party that is having the most difficulty with "radical fringe" is not Democrats. It's Republicans. They know it, and they are in the middle of their own intra-party war to control the bleeding. As of now, they have been largely unsuccessful, as candidate after candidate on the national scene kisses the hem of the radical religious/political right.

More and more, Georgia Democrats are successfully looking smart, caring and reasonable, while Georgia Republicans are looking extreme, reactionary and welded to the radical, far-right, religious elements to whom they have sold their souls to gain political power. The question for Georgia Republicans is whether they can reign in their fringe and thus appeal to the majority of voters. Those prospects are looking pretty dim.

For instance, when the legislative session begins with a hearing on a bill to make abortion illegal in this state, and that hearing turns in to a virtual circus of the religious-so-far-right-we're-off-the-island, and then that gets blogged in real time, even Republican bloggers begin to cringe.

Likewise, when Republicans cave to the "Sadie Fields Foot Soldiers" and pass out of committee a bill that would require ultrasounds before abortions, even for victims of rape and incest, moderate Republicans must cringe along with the rest of us.

The capstone this week was Rep. Bridges' anti-Semitic rant. With one statement, he condemned both Jews and science. He made both himself and his party look like bigots and neanderthals.

Add to this the Republican's struggles on the national scene, where their most viable candidate for President, Rudolph Giuliani will probably not make it through their primary because of the political clout they allow their radical fringe to wield.

Republicans built a political juggernaut by forging a coalition between "values voters" and traditional fiscally conservative Republicans. The problem is that the two groups actually had little in common, and now that ship is breaking apart, run aground on the War in Iraq and the moral bankruptcy of those who pledged to carry the 'values" standard. The truth is that they would've gotten in anyone's boat as long as it took them to power.

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