Many people who have always called themselves Republicans will no longer vote for that party. Five people have told me this and I was interested to see that this attitude has caused the Republican Party to restrategize fund raising for senate races.
The people I’m talking about do not call themselves social conservatives, just conservatives. They tend not to be social conservatives as that term is commonly used. They tend to support women’s rights and civil rights in general. Abortion and school prayer are not their foremost interests. They are not followers of extremist right wing radio shows. They do not feel that Democrats are evil. They are well educated and keep up on politics, usually from a variety of sources.
Like Alan Greenspan in his recent autobiography, they feel that the party led by Bush has abandoned its fundamental principles and in the process deserted them. Some are rather bitter.
The concerns expressed to me are Bush’s disregard of the need for a balanced budget, a concept that was treated as hallowed by Republicans during Clinton’s administration, then abandoned as soon as Bush got into office. Related to this is the Republican’s disregard of the mounting national debt, a sore point among my friends. The gaping trade deficit, something Republican used to be concerned about, still concerns many people.
The corruption and mismanagement of money associated with government contractors deeply shocks some conservatives, as did the political scandals that have characterized the administration. These people also do not support the jingoistic militarism that the Republican Party seems to stand for.
Finally Bush’s apparent dishonesty about the war, with regard to the Plame leak and now blaming gas prices on the Democrats while urging acceptance of off shore drilling as a solution, knowing full well that that it does not offer a solution (well, maybe one or two percent in fifteen or twenty years) and that oil companies have tens of millions of acres of undrilled land that they choose not to use at this time. They are shocked at the administration’s suppression of science and diminishment of the E.P.A.
They ask: What traditional convservative value has been respected by the Bush administration other than lip service to family values? The business of government has not been on conservative tracks. Clinton’s administration was far truer to conservative principles than the current administration.
Anyway I was surprised to see that this attitude is shared by so many Republicans that the Republican Party is having a hard time with fund raising. People are refusing to give money to the Republican Party PAC that raises money for senatorial campaigns. To do an end run around this obstacle, the Republican Party is creating a PAC that does not collect money for the party but for conservative candidates.
It seems that to some degree the Republican Party may have lost its base in the course of catering to Bush’s base.