Whitman Makes Sense, But Only in the Communist North
Posted by Mike on November 28, 2006
Former New Jersey Christie Whitman, who by default is looking better every day, argues that the Republican party cannot win another national election unless the party moves to the political center. She cites numerous moderate Republicans who were wiped out in a national Democrat wave to support her argument. Whitman could not be more wrong.
It’s telling that Whitman cites a Vermont Republican as a specific example. Admittedly, Whitman’s centrism is the most viable strategy in certain states, such as New Jersey, Vermont and others in the northeast. In those states, Republicans must distinguish themselves from their party on at least a couple of issues or have a really poor opponent if they hope to win. Not every state is going to elect a Tom Coburn. However, on a national stage, Republicans typically must run as conservatives if they hope to win.
My theory that successful Republicans run from the right while successful Democrats run form the center is based on the direction those candidates move in order to get to the political center. The positions which attract the most attention when a centrist candidate emerges are the issues where the candidate distinguishes himself from his party. When a Republican moves to the center, he moves left in order to get there. The newsworthy positions are the liberal ones. On the other hand, centrist Democrats who run to the center must run to the right in order to get there. Therefore, someone like Bill Clinton looks reasonable when his newsworthy policy positions are middle class tax cuts, the harmful effects of rap music, and ending welfare as we know it.
A look into history seems to support this theory. Nationally, Republicans who move to the center typically lose. Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush in 1992, and Gerald Ford are perfect examples. Republicans who run as conservatives typically win. George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Ronald Reagan are perfect examples. It’s true that Democrats can only win in the center on a national level. Bill Clinton did so twice. John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, and Walter Mondale didn’t do so well.
Republicans in New Jersey should pay attention to Governor Whitman. For Republicans in most states and for those who hope to win a national election, there’s nothing to see here.