Political Surf on the myth of a GOP decline … and gum

There is a myth spreading in the media, mostly bred in condescension, that the Republican Party is heading for an irreversible decline. This myth, egged on by ideologues in the media, Democratic partisans and enabling Republicans who wish to be loved, spreads every time Democrats win two election cycles in a row. The GOP was declared terminal in 1964, 1976, 1992 and today. Among those burying the GOP include E.J. Dionne, James Carville, Colin Powell and one pol known for his loyalty, Sen. Arlen Specter.

It’s all pure “flapdoodle,” of course, to quote a memorable phrase in a long-forgotten New York Times editorial. There is no leftward drift in American politics and no deterioration in conservatism. Most of us are conservative. What’s happening is that the Democratic Party base (about 20 percent of voters) is better organized than the Republican Party’s base, which is also about 20 percent of voters. 

Parties get stronger when they return to their ideological roots. The Democratic Party did not regain power by being a mushy version of the Republicans. They built an active, very liberal, very partisan movement that gained momentum during a fading Bush administration. They also recruited an attractive presidential candidate who appealed to many of the 60 percent of voters who are not obsessed with politics.

The absolute WORST thing the Republican Party could do is listen to all those urging them to abandon core conservative values and become “moderate” mushy versions of liberalism light.  Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal, points out  that calls for the GOP to be less conservative is always framed by Democrats and leftists, who understand that “whatever the answer, yes or no, it will damage Republicans.”

Republicans need to get out  and defend traditional conservative positions on government, immigration, gay marriage, abortion, entitlement reform, the War on Terror, etc. They won’t win battles right now, but with patience they will lay a foundation for a resurgence. Already, the prospect of trillions of dollars being added to the deficit is moving independents away from the Democratic Party. The GOP should unite against these massive spending increases.

Our leaders, Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman, Ridge, Palin, Jindal … need to get out in the public arena  and debate their ideological counterparts, just like Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley did so many times.  Gingrich, Obama, conservatism versus liberalism, would be fascinating, and I think Gingrich would triumph.

Here’s a link to an interesting Weekly Standard article related to this post: http://www.weeklystandard.com

Before I close, just a quick mention of a pleasant surprise from a Chicago PR firm that handles Wrigley gum. Last week I blogged about losing 80 pounds. I cited Extra gum as a nice no-cal snack choice. Yesterday, in the mail, was a package stuffed with several dozen 15-gum packs of Extra along with a nice note of congratulations from Wrigley. Yeah, I know it’s PR, and it worked, I’m writing about it. But I still think it was very cool. I’m already well stocked with Extra, so I gave away the packs … spreading the low-cal flavor …  If you want to read last weight’s weight-loss blog post, it’s below: http://blogs.standard.net/2009/04/28/

One more thing: Due to learning some new computer programs, Currents, our digital-only section on politics and culture (published on Fridays), is taking a one-week break.

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14 Responses to Political Surf on the myth of a GOP decline … and gum

  1. Kevin says:

    Republicans need to get out and defend traditional conservative positions on government, immigration, gay marriage, abortion, entitlement reform, the War on Terror, etc.

    No, they need to end government involvement in gay marriage and abortion and torpedo the current framework of the war on terror which undermines personal freedom in exchange for an illusion of security. They need to get back to supporting individual and economic liberty, smaller government, secure borders, a sound monetary policy, put an end foreign aid and to overseas empire building and recognize the limited role of the federal government spelled out in the constitution.

    The failure of the Republican party to cut government despite controlling both branches of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House has made it clear that the Republican party is more interested in power and control than in supporting the constitution and the rights of a free citizenry.

  2. Nicole says:

    Thanks for not pulling a McCain and “forgetting” to mention Sarah Palin in your list of conservative leaders, Doug. IMHO, the GOP doesn’t need fresh ideas, it needs someone in red Naughty Monkey heels delivering them. As Bill Clinton said, we don’t need a new generation of leaders, we need a new gender of leaders. And eventually one of the two major parties will GET it! Women are 51% of the electorate!!!

  3. Gingrich vs. Obama? Oh, I would love to see that. Newt has that “angry old Republican” vibe and storage shed of political baggage that would be fun to see microscoped in a presidential campaign.

    After Reagan won in 1980, George Will and others wrote about the trend that would cement a Republican permanent “lock” on the Electoral College. The permanence lasted 12 years until a flattop third-party candidate and the Bubba ticket showed up.

    I’m not expecting Democrats will hold the prssidency and Congress for longer than eight to 12 years, if that long. I also expect to see the Republicans struggle greatly over the next few years, especially if the party’s die-hard faction continues to espouse such a condescending attitude toward any and all disbelievers of the one true word. Their walled compound could become a lonely place.

  4. Steve Stones says:

    Doug, you know how much I love ya, but I think you’re way off here on this one. It’s no secret that the GOP is indeed fading and fading very fast. Their problem is that they have nothing new to offer, particularly young people. Young people look towards the future, which entails change and progress. The GOP’s other big problem is that they keep making the mistake of selecting sex pot, bimbos who are intellectually challenged as their spokes people on issues (i.e. Sarah Palin and Miss California). As I’ve discussed with you many times before: I don’t know how a person can consider themselves a forward thinking, critical thinking person and be trapped by ideas of the past. The majority of educators on college campuses are liberal for a very good reason. You cannot move forward and embrace change and diversity if you are a conservative thinking person stuck in ideas of the past. You may say that this is biased, but change is change, regardless of where and when it happens. It occurs in all cultures, societies and time periods. Any person in the arts, including myself, will tell you that you cannot be creative by being conservative. Creativity stems from thinking outside ones comfort zone, and disregarding old ideas of the past. This is how cultures and societies move forward and progress.
    I once had a political science teacher in High School, Monte Ogden, who often referred to the GOP as: “Group of Old People.” This is how I have come to view the GOP for many years now. Old people gravitate to the Republican Party because it is familiar and predictable to them, which is how old people live their lives. Many liberals are usually young, healthy and thin (unless we’re talking about Michael Moore), whereas most conservatives are over weight, very stubborn and look like the boring Sunday school teachers I had in church on Sundays. I know you will disagree, but here is my two cents worth.

    Steve Stones

  5. Steve says:

    Hmm. I seem to remember something about a Permanent Majority of conservatives declared round about the middle of the 1990s. So it would seem that dancing on your opponent’s ravaged and mutilated party is a time-honored political tradition. Don’t get so upset that liberals are having a hoe-down on the remnants of the Republican party. It’s not permanent; it never is.

    Is the GOP in decline? Just look at where it was eight years ago and I think the obvious answer is Yes. It is certainly more irrelevant to public policy and governing the nation than it’s ever been in my lifetime. And it is very obviously in disarray (though considering the sound drubbing it took this last November I think that’s only natural at this point in time). It’s not the end of the Republican party, but it is more than a “flapdoodle.”

    The Republican party will rise in relevance again and will inevitably take back Congress and the White House (though perhaps not both at the same time). It will just as inevitably lose control of both to Democrats again as well (though perhaps not quite so dramatically or thoroughly). The debates happening right now are not about who will give the eulogy at the Republicans’ funeral, they’re about the short-term ability of the party to recover from the mess they’ve made for themselves. And, frankly, it looks like they could be in the political wasteland for quite a while. Republicans have not backed off from the policies that cost them so dearly the past two elections even though the public spanked them mightily at the polls because of those policies. They have taken the tactic of obstructionism when it comes to trying to fix all the problems the country has right now, which also isn’t going down well with the electorate. They have tried rebranding the party but have failed to actually come up with new ideas with which to rebrand (The Daily Show had a wonderful little bit showing Romney, Jindal and Bush 3 trumpeting their “new” ideas, then showing McCain and Palin trumpeting those same ideas on the campaign trail not so long ago…and those ideas didn’t turn out so well for McCain/Palin). And whether they want to admit it or not, the party is leaderless and therefore rudderless right now. Doug included a long list of Republican “leaders” in this blog entry (“Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman, Ridge, Palin, Jindal”) the trouble being that none of these people actually are the leader of the Republican party. In fact, none of them wield as much power within the party as Rush Limbaugh…a comedian (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not). One of these folks may eventually emerge as a leader, or perhaps someone will come from within the ranks of the party to do it. But until that happens, the party is going nowhere and will continue to be utterly irrelevant to American politics.

    And I, too, would like to see Obama v Gingrich in a presidential run…but then, I’d also love to see the Republicans get spanked at the polls just a soundly in 2012 as they did in 2008.

  6. RE:steve says:

    ”The GOP’s other big problem is that they keep making the mistake of selecting sex pot, bimbos who are intellectually challenged as their spokes people on issues (i.e. Sarah Palin and Miss California)’

    Tell me again how the GOP selected Miss Cali to be any kind of spokesperson for the party?

    You see, conservatism isnt a trend my friend. The core beliefs and principles of true conservatism (not republican) do not change with the times. They are tried and true and enduring especially when going against the drain. A new face? A new presentation? yeah, def. but to change its very core is to be well, liberal. If i am not “hip” for not going with the “in” crowd, then so be it. I mean, who can you rely on but a solid mind-set. Again, not to say the repub party is anything that i mentioned, but its def not dem.

  7. flatlander100 says:

    Let’s see… as I seem to recall it was but two Congressional elections ago that Karl Rove and his Merrie Bande were talking about “a permanent Republican majority,” weren’t they?

    My my my how times do change….

  8. flatlander100 says:

    You wrote: “Last week I blogged about losing 80 pounds. I cited Extra gum as a nice no-cal snack choice. Yesterday, in the mail, was a package stuffed with several dozen 15-gum packs of Extra along with a nice note of congratulations from Wrigley. Yeah, I know it’s PR, and it worked, I’m writing about it. But I still think it was very cool.”

    Well, sure. Corporate America springs to the aid of conservative dieters, while liberal calorie-counters are left to fend for themselves. Thus do the Malefactors of Great Wealth, the Robber Barons of Corporate America, work their nefarious ways! [grin]

  9. re:flatlander says:

    i sure hope that was a sarcastic comment flat, about the gum. The right always brings partisan politics into everything, dont they Flat? And your arrogance is something highly annoying.

  10. flatlander100 says:

    RE: Flat

    The post was tongue in cheek. Hope you noticed the [grin] at the end. Just ribbing Mr. Gibson a bit.

  11. re says:

    Then of coarse my apologies Flat.

  12. flatlander100 says:


    De nada. I’ve done the same myself now and then.

  13. Willbike says:

    I think losing congress and then the presidency qualifies as a decline! No myth.

  14. Props for the weight loss. I know it feels goooood! Glad the gum helped you, but I’ve gotta share something about Wrigley Gum and their PR attempts. Just chew on this — Wrigley Gum paid for research which found that chewing gum in class makes teens smarter in math! Oh yes they did. You do get what you pay for. Wrigleys “sponsored” or funded research by Baylor University of Medicine. And guess what? Why they found that kids just get smarter when chewing Wrigley’s sugar-free gum. They studied four math classes, 108 students aged 13 to 16 years old from a Houston charter school that services mostly low-income Hispanic students. The gum-chewers did 3 percent better (they say that’s statistically significant) on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills achievement test. BUT they did not get smarter when they took the Woodstock Johnson III Test of Achievement. Sounds like whether gum makes kids smarter depends upon the test, not gum chewing.

    Sponsored (read: paid-for) studies invariably produce results favorable to the economic interests of the spoonsor. Wrigley wants to sell more gum! Can you imagine how late school janitors would have to work if gum was no longer considered contraband in the class room?

    Ethic Soup has a good article on this at:


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