Nov 07 2007

GOP Needs To Stop Digging Their Political Grave

Update: Another indication that the far right is alienating (of course, insulting moderates, er.. RINOS, clearly alienates) the voters and costing elections:

Republican losses yesterday, even in solidly GOP districts, he said, were more often the result of a candidate being too conservative for the moderate direction most voters want Virginia to take.

“If you want to take a look at who’s winning in the Republican Party, it’s middle-of-the-road Republicans who have not moved too far to the right that they’re considered extremists,” he said.

The GOP coalition has been torn asunder. And the illegal immigration problem had nothing – absolutely nothing, done on it. – end update

Update: The Washington Post notes that the GOP in Virginia had focused the races this season on immigration – supposedly to help them hold their seats:

In late August, GOP leaders sought to shift the focus to illegal immigration after Congress failed to address the issue.

House and Senate GOP leaders agreed on a plan to bar illegal immigrants from public colleges and deny them bail when they are charged with a crime.

In Northern Virginia, several GOP state legislative candidates also teamed with Stewart in Prince William to promote cutting off services for illegal immigrants in that county.

Immigration also became a factor in Connolly’s race. But unlike Stewart, Connolly focused on illegal behavior, such as overcrowding, and did not support withholding services to people in the country illegally.

Unlike some previous Virginia legislative races, many GOP candidates shied away from campaigning on social issues such as abortion. House and Senate leaders unveiled plans for more spending on health care and school construction.

The result of shying away from social issues, going moderate on health care and school spending, and emphasizing hard immigration policies the results are clear:

In Fairfax County, Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) easily beat Republican Gary H. Baise of Falls Church. Democrats also appeared well positioned to retain their majority on the Board of Supervisors.

Democrats also picked up at least four House seats, including two in Northern Virginia. Democrat Margaret G. Vanderhye beat Republican David M. Hunt for the seat of retiring Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax). In Prince William, Democrat Paul Nichols picked up the seat of retiring GOP Del. Michele B. McQuigg. Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax) beat Democrat Jay P. Donahue.

The GOP took a pounding in Northern VA even with (or because) of the hard stance on immigration. And where Northern VA goes so goes the state. I could care less how long it takes, and how many losses it takes, for the GOP to wake up. It is clear there will be no hard line on the long time immigrants supported by the voters (which is the issue – forget all the diversionary issues were everyone agrees). The GOP will keep losing opportunities on the BROADER conservative agenda.– end update

Purity or governance (with some patience for compromise and letting people ‘come around’ to conservative views on issues)? Which path will the GOP pick. The hardliners have chased all the RINOs off (insults over policy differences do that). I am all for conservative and libertarian principles. But you need a majority in our democracy to have a shot at moving the policy – even in small steps. Otherwise you lose and the policy shifts backwards, erasing years of hard fought successes.

You can see the pending 2008 disaster playing out now in 2007 elections in Virginia (my homes state) and Kentucky – two formally red/GOP states:

Two red states turned slightly blue in off-year elections as Kentucky’s Republican governor lost, and Democrats picked up at least three seats in Virginia’s state Senate.

In Kentucky, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, took nearly 60% of the vote against incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was plagued by scandal in the early days of his administration. Gov. Fletcher campaigned on social issues but couldn’t overcome a furor surrounding a 2006 indictment for his part in a patronage scandal. Charges against the governor were dropped after he made a deal with prosecutors, and he later pardoned all others accused.

Democrats picked up at least three seats in Virginia’s upper chamber and were likely to take more. The party’s most impressive gains were in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Early returns indicated that Democrats might take control of that body.

Democrats have swept recent high-profile statewide elections in Virginia, including the last two governor’s races and a surprise victory in the U.S. Senate race last year, and the party hopes the trend will hold for the 2008 Senate race, where former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner is favored.

The Kentucky race could be considered a loss due to personal issues, but clearly VA is turning purple. We have had GOP Congressman in my areas of Northern Virginia for as long as I can remember, and now we don’t. It is not just the Iraq war. Northern VA has an enormous (and sometimes troublesome) immigrant population from below our southern border. But the area has people from all over the world, given the work done in downtown DC. So immigration and diversity of cultures and traditions is the norm overall. Herndon, one of the most visible flash points in the illegal immigration issue, is now possibly a very democrat place.

So how is being hardline on long term immigrants benefiting the GOP here? We all agree we need to boot the criminals ASAP, get the rest background checked and processed into the above-the-table economy, and restrict all future immigration to be truly temporary and enforceable. Conservatives implode (and get nasty and testy) when we discuss the option of having long term, crime free immigrants pay fines and stay. Seems to be some sort of emotional issue with some. But I can see the results. Democrats win.

Democrats just took away decades-long GOP seats in areas of VA rife with illegal immigrants. If the GOP hardline won’t work here it won’t work in a lot of places. Not all, but too many to consider a governing majority. The problem is the long term illegals are interwoven into our society. They are neighbors or friends and teammates of our kids. They sit next to us in Church (OK, they would if I attended church). They are not usually or obviously criminals.

The GOP is attacking and maligning friends and neighbors to too many people who will vote against such posturing and are in sufficient numbers to move 5-8% of the vote and tip seats into Democrat hands. 5-8% of the population is not a large number, but when they switch sides or are repulsed away from one side that shift in voting can be like a political earth quake.

It really boils down to this: how long does the GOP want to be sitting on the sidelines of the minority screaming their frustration versus making progress? The far right was pissed off the pace of their reforms they demanded were too slow and went on a purity purge and attacking moderates and others who would not go as far as fast as some would like. Well now that pace of conservative progress has now been stopped, And in fact recent gains are being, or could be, reversed. Is that the solution they wanted? Don’t tell me this is the solution they planned on!

34 responses so far

34 Responses to “GOP Needs To Stop Digging Their Political Grave”

  1. Terrye says:

    And besides DBostan, that whole thing about the Republicans being the party of big business sounds like something John Edwards would say.

    The truth is most of these people do not work for big business.

  2. AJStrata says:

    Well said Terrye!

  3. Terrye says:


    Thanks, but you are the choir.

  4. lurker9876 says:

    Michael Barone wrote an article about this. It seems to be similar to what was being said here.

    A Watershed Moment on Immigration

    We’re saying enforce the laws today!

  5. Terrye says:


    I read the link.

    I do think that people want the laws enforced. I get that, the problem is, it is not that simple.

    For instance the other day I heard someone say why do these people get hearings? Well because it is the law. I think that perhaps some of the problem is that people don’t always understand the law.

    So, yes, people want the laws enforced, but when you are talking about 12 million people, that might not be possible without a lot more resources and changes in how we track people and process people.

    But most people also support a guest worker program and most people also support normalization for some of the people here. But that is a broad statement, then people have to agree on who the “some” are.

    I have become almost apathetic about the issue myself. I think the Right thinks this is a good issue for them so they are mostly interested in milking it. But the Democrats can play that game too.

    In the end people are going to be more interested in results. Sooner or later the rhetoric wears thin.

  6. MerlinOS2 says:

    I could care less what you read. The facts are clear and obvious on the ground. Don’t pretend to tell Virginians they don’t know Virginia. We’ll just laugh at you.

    Left by AJStrata on November 7th, 2007

    Nice to see that you are going to then I guess limit yourself to being a Virginia only blog, because it would be contrary for you to tell any other state or even the nation about their issues.

    Not trying to snark you at all just pointing out the disconnect in your logical inference.

  7. MerlinOS2 says:

    Via AceofSpades

    From Kaus, the fence has destroyed the economy of a town… however, the town in question is a Mexican one that became a boomtown as a stop of convenience for illegal immigrants sneaking across the US border.

    If the fence doesn’t work, why exactly is this illegal stopover town decimated?

    Poll: 77% oppose granting drivers’ licenses to illegals.

    And see Kaus too for Hillary’s continue flailing on the issue, and John Edwards’ exploiting of it. Kaus guesses Hillary might not be willing to walk back from her previous non-answer because she’s too vain about her supposed intellectual gifts to admit she’s ever wrong.

    And, what the hell, see this Kaus piece I meant to link previously about Democrats finally realizing this issue is cutting against them, and very badly.

  8. MerlinOS2 says:

    Gee that right wing must really be growing

    On the issue of public benefits, the poll’s sample of California voters found 62 percent opposed state-sponsored college scholarships for children of illegal aliens, while 24 percent supported the concept.

    The idea was unpopular in both parties, with Republicans opposed by a margin of 81 percent to 11 percent, and Democrats against it by 50 percent to 33 percent.

    The state’s Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed a bill last month that would have allowed illegal-alien children to apply for community college fee waivers and other types of financial aid. Mr. Schwarzenegger said the policy would strain public finances and hurt legal-resident students.

  9. MerlinOS2 says:

    Another perspective from a political analyst who lives in Northern Virginia

    Loudoun has been the fastest growing county in the country for the past few years. Major issues: traffic, education, taxes, immigration in that order. The Dulles Greenway (which goes part Dulles airport) costs about $3.50 per pop and is going up to $5 dollars in the next 5 years. There are 12 elementary schools in the main town of Ashburn (there were two schools 9 years ago). Immigration is challenging but not a HUGE deal like in neighboring Herndon.

    The main challenge for the GOP is the purple-ing nature of the county. The blueness of the counties that surround the Beltway are moving out here for larger houses and more land. Loudoun county had a bare majority last year for the marriage amendment and some precincts voted against it overwhelmingly.

  10. MerlinOS2 says:

    My goodness yet another local political analyst who believes that immigration is an issue but it was simply approached wrong the way the message was used

    Now, don’t count me as a Tom Davis squish on this. Instead of applying blunt force on the immigration issue in a diverse community, you zero in on the illegal immigration-related quality of life concerns that 90% of the electorate can identify with, like the scourge of MS-13 gang violence in the region. Were I running in Northern Virginia, I wouldn’t mention the words “illegal immigration.” I would talk exclusively about MS-13, and about working with ICE to deport every violent criminal in the area illegally. This is the fatal mistake that ex-prosecutor Jerry Kilgore made in 2005 — and the GOP candidates this time around didn’t do much better.

    Likewise, running a 1988-style campaign on “taxes” is too vague and diffuse. Zero in on the real source of taxpayer ire: rising property tax assessments. And tie it to competence. The housing boom was a veritable revenue bonanza for local governments, with double digit revenue growth year on year. At the state level, Mark Warner raised taxes. And even with state and local governments drowning in revenue, they still can’t build roads, they still can’t educate kids, they still can’t get things done. And now Tim Kaine and the Democrats want even more. Tim Kaine and the Democrats. Incompetent. Unaccountable. Arrogant.

    Finally, traffic is the new wedge issue — on both sides. In the 2002 tax increase referendum, we used environmental concerns (or they used us) to wedge advocates of higher taxes from liberal inner suburbanites who ride Metro. In 2005, the Democrats used long commutes to pry away out outer suburbanites who would gladly pay more taxes for an extra half-hour with their families. We need to highlight the inherent fissures within the Democratic coalition again. And at a minimum, hold Democrats accountable for their promises on traffic and road-building. The RPV needs to launch a “Tim Kaine Commute-o-Meter” tallying the rise in the total commute for Northern Virginia drivers since Kaine took office. And our message could look something like this: Democrats like _____ are in the pocket of extreme, pro-regulatory special interests. They won’t build the roads we need to solve the traffic crisis.

    Running on recycled political consultant wish lists failed. Running against the party failed. Why not try something different next time: offering principled conservative solutions to the things voters are actually concerned about?

  11. MerlinOS2 says:

    Well oh well another local analyst who just doesn’t get it I guess

    Despite attempts to nationalize the election, most contests were fought on local issues: taxes, roads, and growth. Still, this is obviously a worrisome trend for the GOP.

    The Commonwealth’s senior United States Senator, John Warner, is retiring. Popular former governor Mark Warner, a Democrat, is the odds-on favorite to succeed him (53%-37% over former Republican governor Jim Gilmore in one recent poll). A recent Rasumussen survey shows Rudy Giuliani barely edging out Hillary Clinton, 46% to 43% — within the polls’ margin of error.

    Part of the explanation is that Virginia Democrats have done an excellent job in recent years of recruiting moderate candidates who are less vulnerable on the “family values” and crime fronts. Virginia Democrats, like Southern Democrats generally, have long been much more conservative than their national counterparts but that trend has continued.

    Mostly, though, the trend is a function of the explosive growth of Northern Virginia, the suburbs and exurbs of Washington, D.C. This part of the Commonwealth is much wealthier, more urban in its thinking (mostly owing to traffic issues that the rest of Virginia largely escapes), and more beholden to the federal government for their livelihood. Despite the routine victories of “slow-growth” candidates (mostly Democrats, ironically enough) this shows no sign of abating.

  12. dave m says:


    Hah! Good political retort. (Are you saying that world wide
    slaughter is the only hope the GOP has?)

    I guess you did say you have a Congressperson in your family!
    I was tempted to retort back with “Are you saying that illegal
    immigrants are the only hope the dhimmicrats have?”?

    But I won’t. Because I want to serious for a moment.
    What I am saying is that events are rapidly moving to
    a full scale war in the Middle East that will suck the USA
    into it and I am predicting these things will happen before
    the end of President Bush’s Presidency.

    Even note Bush’s language yesterday:
    Part of his reiteration of his WWIII warning.
    “I want to be able to tell the American people that I’ve TRIED to
    solve the (Iran) problem diplomatically”.
    Am Trying, Will Try, Have Tried – the tenses of the verb try.
    To choose Have Tried means the vision is already in the
    President’s mind, when he will tell us that he TRIED and
    something else is going to happen, on his watch. That one
    sentence, unless you want to characterize it as one of
    those comical “Bushisms”, says everything you need to know.

    And what happens next, will upset all political calculations laid
    in place so far, and in ways I don’t think any pundit can
    predict now.

  13. AJStrata says:

    Yeah Merlin, us yokels in VA don’t have a clue what is going, but you do from Texas?

    LOL! Whatever you need to keep your denial screens up.

  14. MerlinOS2 says:

    Well first off I’m not from Texas.

    And from what I posted only one local analyst seemed to think immigration was a major or contributing issue and he only thought it was messaged wrong.

    One analyst put it at 4th place in his list.

    They seemed to note the Dem rapid growth in N Virginia (where have I heard that before)

    Traffic , growth, taxes hmmmmm wonder how the missed that obvious right wing conspiracy that was going on.