Readers Write: No Room for Moderate Republicans?
Rose Aguilar's article about how moderate Republicans have been sidelined -- not only in the Supreme Court debate, but in many other policy areas of their party -- brought up a lot of comments from readers.
Aguilar observed that in the wake of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation, the media focused almost entirely on the debate over abortion rights and Roe v. Wade. When the media only cites anti-choice groups like Focus on the Family, numerous pro-choice or pro-family planning Republican groups get ignored.
The writer also quoted Ann Stone, the national chair of Republicans for Choice: "It is mind-boggling to me that the press only focuses on right-wingers. Is it just because sensationalism sells? When moderates try to do something, it might get attention on NPR or in the Los Angeles Times, but the press here in Washington is pretty much ignoring moderates."
Even after President Bush's nomination of Judge John Roberts for the Supreme Court, the primary issue under discussion is whether the two-year veteran of the D.C. Circuit Court is beyond the mainstream school of national opinion on abortion and family planning.
The issue is a hotly debated one among AlterNet readers. But even beyond the implications for Roe v. Wade, many readers commented on the noticeable lack of centrist Republicans in the media. They agreed with Aguilar's assessment that "reading news coverage of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, you wouldn't even know that moderate Republicans exist."
Izzie wrote, "I had no idea there were so many large pro-choice Republican groups. Yet another reason why the Dems should not back off on the abortion issue. The author is right. I never hear from moderates in the news. Problem is, they don't have a backbone and would probably never put up a fight like the left tries to do with conservative Democrats."
Trying to bridge the perceived gap between the centrists on both sides of the aisle, thirdmg commented that the parties have undergone an ideological shift that isn't yet reflected in public perception. "What goes unnoticed too often is that today's Republican Party is no longer the party of Lincoln," he wrote. "It's now the party of George Wallace and the South. After Nixon, through his southern strategy, lured Wallace's disaffected Democrats into the Republican Party, they gained dominance by steadily driving out the moderates and transforming the party into a resemblance of what the Democratic Party was during the era of segregation."
Some of our more conservative readers discussed their own feelings of abandonment and alienation as the supposed conservative party moved rightward into fanaticism. Pepper wrote, "I am not a liberal nor am I a conservative in the current sense of the word. I am fiscal conservative (balanced budgets, real trade, low taxation with true investment in national infrastructure and a safety net for those temporarily in trouble), but a social and political liberal in that we have an obligation as humans to assist those in need especially if it's a 'hand up' and not a 'hand out'. I have been alienated from my party and the dems are weak and indecisive with no courage with the exception of Henry [sic] Reid of Nevada. He is the only dem I could vote for in a pinch, but none of the others."
In response, Canadian reader Canuckistani added, "Your situation is somewhat similar to the Canadian conservative's situation where the moderate 'progressive conservatives' were basically hijacked by the farther right 'reform party' and the two joined to form the Conservative Party of Canada. I know a lot of conservatives who felt pretty alienated after that -- they sound a lot like the moderate republicans. ... I wonder why a third 'centrist' party cannot take hold? Is it stubborness of two-party ideology?"
The most promising theme in response to Aguilar's article came from readers who emphasized the importance of working with moderate Republicans to bring the country back to its founding principles. Expat In Tokyo wrote, "OK, I am as hard left as they come, to be perfectly frank. But I also realize without cultivating those who are Conservative (fiscally and socially) we will never win back the mainstream of america!! ... We need to embrace those who may disagree with us on one or two points but love freedom and the ability to discuss topics without resorting to terms like 'nazi' and 'communist'. "
And thirdmg seconded this idea. "Although I've been a Democrat and a liberal all of my adult life, I come from a Republican family and I've known a lot of moderate Republicans. They are reasonable and rational people. It's not only possible to work with them, it's now an absolute necessity if we're ever going to free this country from the right-wing lunatic fringe."