In an interview with the Visalia Times-Delta, former Arkansas Governor and GOP candidate for President Mike Huckabee suggests that without social conservatives the Republican Party will be as irrelevant as the extinct Whigs. Problem there is that with social conservatives in the GOP, the Republicans are as vibrant and up-to-date as the Know Nothing party.
Here's what I find: People that are social conservatives are also economic conservatives. But a lot of the economic conservatives are not social conservatives. Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs [the short-lived 19th century political party].
They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party.
Because the energy that is supplied for knocking on doors and working neighborhoods and getting out the vote, it comes from people who are passionate about human life and about traditional marriage. Those are the same people that believe in national security, less government and lower taxes.
I see people saying, "Well, we don't really want to get into these issues like Úlife'." You do that and you lose the evangelicals, you lose the Catholics, you lose basically a whole lot of people who aren't even religious but through common sense know that that's a ridiculous position to take and call yourself conservative.
Being the party of failed economic doctrines and the party of no and isn't exactly a winning proposition but couple that with being the party of hate and it is likely to be fatal or perhaps better put the party of 30%.
Angry social conservatives are speculating that Senator Chuck Grassley could face a primary challenge in 2010. The religious right has been dissatisfied with Grassley for a long time (see here and here).
"You better ask me in a month, after I've had a chance to think," Grassley, the state's senior Republican official, said after a health care forum in Mason City.
Wingnut Bill Salier, who almost won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in 2002, says conservatives are becoming "more and more incensed [the] more they start to pay attention to how far [Grassley] has drifted."
I've been wondering how much these leadership contests matter.
Obviously some people will be better organizers or better fundraisers or better communicators than others, and for all I know some of the declared candidates are truly inept. But let's assume the Republicans find leaders with all the qualities on a party hack's wish list. Will they be able to turn things around for the GOP by raising more money and improving their campaign mechanics?
Ambitious people don't like the idea that their fate is out of their hands. But an opposition political party's fate is largely out of its hands. The Democratic Party's recovery from its low ebb in the winter of 2004-2005 had very little to do with Democratic policy innovation and a great deal to do with the fact that the objective situation facing the country got worse. The time for the GOP to improve, policy-wise, was back then. Had the Bush administration been animated by better ideas, Bush might not have led to declining incomes, rising inequality, and catastrophic military adventures. But since he did, the GOP lost. And now the reality is that it's the Democrats' turn to govern. If things work out poorly, the GOP will get back in whether or not they have an ideological renewal, and if things work out well the Republicans will stay locked out.
But the facts of life are these: in Iowa and at the federal level, voters have given Democrats control of the legislative and executive branches. Whether the Republicans bounce back in 2010 or 2012 will depend more on whether Democrats blow it than whether the RNC or the Iowa GOP State Central Committee chooses the right leader.