I was perusing the Washington Post Newspaper and spied the familiar name of Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Whitman had written an essay called, Flight of the Centrists,why President Obama is losing the middle and what the Republicans should do in response. The essay was originally published in The Ripon Society, "a Republican public policy advocacy organization representing all Americans through moderate, progressive policy formation that uphold traditional common sense Republican principles."(Mission statement,The Ripon Society)
The essay points out the declining popularity of President Obama and reasons for it. Whitman also talks about the lack of bi-partisanship on the well publicized health care reform package, and the President's rush to get it done through a partisan basis-period.
What struck me the most about the essay,however, was the importance that Whitman gave to the need for Republicans to reach centrists to win elections. This has been a consistent theme of Whitman's throughout her career. She took a lot of heat for it, and still does, from elements of the New Jersey Republican party, who somehow feel that unless you are a staunch conservative, then you can't be a true Republican.
Whitman makes the case in the essay that "we as Republicans need to rebuild our support among a constituency that is crucial to the GOP's future electoral success. To reach centrists, we need to return to the party of idea's. We cannot afford to simply discredit the Democrats' programs; we have to propose solutions and show why ours are the tight ones for America."
Whitman is particularly forceful about our legislators focusing on the issues that are important to the majority of Americans, and not just to the interests of a minority of voters. Whitman references the Senate Republicans who decided to focus on a concealed weapons bill while the health care debate was raging through the country. "Instead of focusing on issues that appeal to a minority of voters, we should focus on the core conservative principles of limited government that have served our Party well and made our country great."
I agree with Governor Whitman. Only I'd like to take it a step further. Until the Republican Party embraces the differences within, it will never be able to attract new members unto its ranks. Our enemy is not the Democratic Party, it is ourselves. We are perceived to have become an intolerant, narrow-minded, non-inclusive party, hell bent on self-destruction.
In more cases than I would like to acknowledge, I have to agree with that assessment. It wasn't always this way, nor does it have to continue. But to realize effective change, we must learn to respect divergent views within, and find ways to come together for the good of the Party.
I recommend that we stop labeling ourselves as moderates,RINO's(Republicans In Name Only), conservatives or whatever. Let's simply call ourselves Republicans, and get back to being the party of innovative, constructive ideas to benefit all Americans.
As Whitman says in closing the essay, "We need to earn back the voter's trust, and that takes positive actions as well as thoughtful criticism."