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The Party That Cannot Change

A couple of articles about the Republican Party as it comes into focus during the convention:

John Nichols in The Nation calls the party platform "a document that steers far to the right even of the conservative positions taken by Arizona Senator John McCain," and says, "There is simply no question that the GOP that meets in St. Paul to grudgingly nominate John McCain for president is [Sarah] Palin's party."

David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times writes that McCain has "allowed conservative organizers like Phyllis Schlafly to shape what many advocates say is the most conservative platform in the party’s history. At Ms. Schlafly’s behest, for example, the party approved an immigration plank calling for new laws to speed widespread deportations and other punitive measures at odds with Mr. McCain’s stance on one of his signature issues." He paraphrases Frank Donatelli of the RNC saying that "Mr. McCain would be a 'pro-life' president, which could make a crucial difference with two Supreme Court justices close to retirement," and he quotes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: "I am now more confident about a John McCain presidency than I am about a George Bush presidency. The campaign has courted conservatives aggressively, and it has turned around remarkably in just the last few weeks."

Even though Republican voters in the primaries clearly preferred the relatively centrist, secular conservatism of John McCain to the religion-based, hard-right social conservatism of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee--or least felt that it gave the party a better chance to win over a very anti-Republican electorate--the Evangelical warriors have once again won the inside battle for the conscience of the party. In the process, they have chosen not to give moderate voters anything resembling a solution to our economic crises, our environmental crises, or our various foreign affairs crises. What I thought was a rather shaky Democratic slogan--that the Republicans are asking us to vote for "George Bush's third term"--is becoming more true every day.

The bad news here, to my mind, is that a Republican victory becomes an increasingly more horrifying prospect. The good news is that it keeps getting easier to rally the Democratic troops and convince the undecided. There is no longer any saying that "McCain's got to be better than Bush, at least." Time to make those phone calls.

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