Friday, April 25, 2008

GOP in CA trying not to be losers

Two of the last five Republican presidents were from California. This state used to be fairly conservative. Someone once explained to me that Richard Nixon was very effective exploiting Communism in the 1950's because Californians were worried about being invaded by China. I thot that was ridiculous, until I realized the historical context. In the 1950's, America was just a few years away from fighting a war across the Pacific, with Japan, and across another ocean, the Atlantic. And communist China was a close ally with the Soviet Union. So worrying about fighting a war against the Russians in Europe and against the Chinese across the Pacific (and with the Russians across the Pacific) was a very real threat. I'm sure it's one reason there is a huge naval base in San Diego, and why there are still lots of aerospace and defense companies in LA.

Both of those threats, of course, are long gone, even though China is still technically communist. And California is now much less conservative. The Republican party in California has never really recovered - it's in pathetic shape. The only powerful Republican is the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he's in office because of his personal star power, not because of the state GOP. Which he barely gets along with.

Some Republicans are trying to change this. George Skelton in the LA Times writes about a new group being formed, California Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow, or CRAFT. A number of prominent moderate Republicans in CA - yes, they exist - are finally unhappy enough with the right wing that they are doing something about it. How different are they? Try to imagine this coming out of Dick Cheney's mouth:

"We need to run more women, more Asians, more Latinos and other ethnic
candidates," [GOP consultant Kevin Spillane] says. "White men are a distinct minority in this state. Clearly, a conventional Republican -- a WASP male -- is at a serious disadvantage. The ideal candidate is someone Latino or Asian, someone different."

Wow. Multiculturalism finally gets to the Republican party.

Skelton doesn't go into the issue that this inevitably raises - how do the conservatives feel about this? Probably about the same way that Kos feels about the DNC - as if they are betraying the true faith. This is just the beginning of this phase of the cycle. Democrats are fighting amongst themselves, but the issue is not the issues - it's the personalities of the candidates. Democrats will resolve this peacefully and, hopefully, gracefully, soon. The conflict within the GOP is just beginning. This group will inevitably score its share of victories. But making Republicans electable in California? Good luck on that one, guys.

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