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Is the Republican Party Becoming Irrelevant?

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Message Michael Martin
In the last decade of the 20th-century, a major shift in American political alignment occurred as a center-left majority elected Bill Clinton to huge victories, and conventional wisdom suggested the U.S. seemed certain to have a Democratic-led presidency for quite some time. The Bush presidency has been somewhat of an aberration, and after 6 years of failed policies, the previous political clout of the GOP cabal, that is, the religious right, business conservatives, and white Southerners is becoming less and less prevalent. After the 2006 defeat, the Republican party has become even less relevant in American politics and will continue to do so for some time.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you are a socially-moderate voter who has recently been voting Republican because you do not think the government, generally speaking, should intrude upon the personal decisions of its citizens. If this is the case (and the 2006 election results prove that this bloc is leaving the Republican party in record numbers), then you have absolutely no business supporting a party that thought it fit to intrude in a highly-publicized right-to-die case, has sought to force doctors to provide ideologically-motivated information concerning abortion to their patients, sought to curtail women's individual rights, promote a constitutional amendment to curtail private, gay rights, among other invasive agendas. Surely, if the idea that government intrusion upon private decisions is what has driven one to vote Republican before, such a voter can and should vote either Libertarian, a party that offers an authentic platform on that issue, or even Democratic, a party that opposes all of the measures mentioned above.

Let's also imagine that you think of yourself as a financially-motivated voter who considers balanced budgets, tax relief for average Americans, and sustained economic prosperity to be important endeavors. Certainly, the nostalgic Reaganites hark back to their halcyon days where they remember tax relief and other economic initiatives - but forget the massive budget deficits exacerbated by Reagan's economic policies. If there is anyone that the financially-motivated, non-uber-conservative voters should follow, it is Clinton treasury secretary Bob Rubin, who resided over the greatest period of sustained economic development in the 20th-century. Clinton's economic initiatives resulted in more economic opportunity for lower and middle class Americans, an opportunity that has become less accessible during the last eight years of the Bush administration. With a budget deficit that has now reached trillions of dollars, and it being considered "good news" that the annual budget deficit is only $250 billion or so, the U.S. has never been on shakier financial ground, and no respectable financially-concerned voter can cast a vote for a Republican in good conscience.

Of course, if you are the last of the Teddy Roosevelt-esque conservationist Republicans, your views haven't been represented in the Republican Party's anti-environmental policies in quite some time, despite the lip service of moderates-cum-neoconservatives such as John McCain. The problem with the Republicans in each of these issues is that the Party has allowed only the most extreme right-wing policy hawks to rise to the top echelon of their party;and they have reaffirmed their adherence to conservative principles by rehiring Trent Lott as Minority Whip, continuing their close relationship with the religious right, and revisiting hot button, socially divisive issues such as gay marriage and abortion even after their devastating loss in November. Though I consider Republicans to be in decline in power, they do, of course, have the major media still voicing their talking points, have thousands of think tanks to promote their views, and a financial advantage from donors and corporations that will ensure their viability for at least the near future. I for one, however, sincerely hope that the Republicans never learn their lesson from the moderate defection from their party in November and instead continue on their dead-end path, because doing so will mean that the Republican Party will continue to be in the minority for quite some time and risk becoming even less than relevant within American politics.
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The author lives in Haddonfield, N.J., and is a graduate student in the English department at Temple University.
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