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Monday, November 10, 2008

The change the GOP Needs - From a former candidate

The Change the GOP Needs
I was a GOP candidate as recently as 2006, in a primary challenge against Tom DeLay. I can tell you why the GOP lost this election in a landslide - and the change it needs to make. I doubt they want to hear it.

I went from a GOP candidate (in 2000, 2002 and 2006) to an Obama Precinct Captain in 2008. I made the change because I saw the party go from the moderate “kinder and gentler” approach of George H.W. Bush, to a narrow, highly-negative partisan approach with a focus on religious subsets under leaders like Tom DeLay and the current President.

At a time when Houston needed rail transit and federal dollars were abundant and budgeted, he had those funds stripped from Houston, leaving us over a decade behind in our transportation capacity. He would claim to support NASA, yet strip $1 billion from its budget over winning the primary.

It was all about using power to hurt. It was all about demonizing a target group, be it minorities, immigrants, Muslims, gays, whoever the next target of hate would be. That hate speech by the party against a group (immigrants for example) is what drove away Hispanic voters that had voted for George W. Bush four years ago.

The GOP has allowed itself to become too narrow and mean. The campaign speech about “palling around with terrorists” is the type of hate speech that has driven away a majority of voters to the Democratic Party that has been expanding its tent to include moderate centrists like me who have been driven out of the GOP.

I have heard some conservative commentators blame the GOP loss on “moderates” when the fact is that most moderates have left the GOP –pushed out would be a better description. All that is left are the hard core which is a small, dwindling group of mainly aging white, religious voters. The GOP convention was 94% white people. The Democratic convention was a sea of colors that looks like the real world of our growing neighborhoods. Even President-Elect Obama gained votes from evangelicals who believe in protecting the earth from climate change and other moderate issues.

When I walked Texas Congress district 22 in places like Ft. Bend, every three houses had three different ethnic group living there – Chinese, Indian, Muslim, White, etc. Those changes have made a GOP-drawn district more diverse and Democrat-leaning in recent years. It will eventually switch to Democrat as more diverse people move into one of the fastest growing counties in the United States.

Change is happening in America. We are diverse in cultures and lifestyles. We need more tolerance, not less. We need more bipartisanship to solve our problems, not less. The Democrats have embraced that diversity that is our strength – Jews living peacefully next to Muslims, Pakistani’s next to Indians, in places like Sugar Land, Texas that doesn’t happen in other places in the world.

Until the GOP stops focusing on narrow groups and narrow issues and begins offering fair solutions for the new majority, it will remain a minority party. Some of the GOP evangelical base is even attacking other Christians, e.g., Catholics, for their beliefs. Why should a political party favor one religion over another or even one subset of Christianity over another?

The GOP has lost its way. It has gotten off in the weeds and needs to return to the mainstream as a centrist party if it wants to return to power.
To his credit, President-Elect Obama and his Chief of Staff are Centrists, not leftists. Americans want a Centrist government, not either extreme.

In my opinion this is the change the GOP needs to make. I wish them luck. In the meantime I will continue supporting centrists who provide real solutions to real problems facing all Americans.

Right now the only Centrists in town are in the Democratic Party.


Sterling A Minor said...

I could find no fault with any statement you made, whether factual or opinion.

Anonymous said...

As a conservative Independent I've voted for Republicans more often than not. I can assure you that after this election, I will never again vote for a Republican. The GOP needs to go away. Continuing to nuance it, support it, trying to steer it is a waste of time. Your time would be better spent working within the Dem party. After the tax hikes their won't be enough country club Repubs left to fund the GOP.

Anonymous said...

The GOP is the party for rich white people and stupid poor people.

And ignorant middle class people.