Noonan to Goposaurs: "'Shrink to Win" Isn't Much of a Strategy'

Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas came up with a new nickname and logo for Republicans on Wednesday: Goposaurs.

With that in mind, and Arlen Specter's defection this week, the following WSJ column by Peggy Noonan is an absolute must-read (h/t my dear friend David Tochterman):

I am wondering once again if Republicans in Washington fully understand what they are up against.

They have had a hard week. Someday years hence, when books are written about the Republican comeback, they may well begin with this low moment, and the bolting of Arlen Specter to the Democrats. It is fine to dismiss Mr. Specter as an opportunist, but opportunists tell you something: which side is winning. That's the side they want to be on.

Noonan provocatively continued:

A great party needs give. It must be expansive and summoning. It needs to say, "Join me."

A party that is huge, vital and national, that is truly the expression of the views of a huge and varied nation, will, by definition, contain within it those who are more to the right, and more to the left, and more to the middle. This creates a constant tension, a constant fight, but no matter. As Ronald Reagan said in China, in front of students at Fudan University, we are "a great disputatious nation."

Great parties are coalitions, and coalitions contain disparate and sometimes warring pieces. FDR's coalition contained Southern Democrats from Birmingham and socialists from the Bronx. They didn't agree on much, but they agreed on some essentials, such as "the New Deal is good" and "government should be harnessed to help the little guy." It was imperfect and in time evolved but its success demonstrated that a great party needs give. [...]

Can the party, having accurately ascertained its position, and recognizing shifting terrain, institute a renewed and highly practical tolerance for the many flavors of Republican? Can it live happily and productively with all its natural if sometimes warring constituent groups?

It must.

Noonan moved to an explosive crescendo:

A great party cannot live by constantly subtracting, by removing or shunning those who are not faithful to every aspect of its beliefs, or who don't accept every pole, or who are just barely fitting under the tent. Room should be made for them. Especially in those cases when Republican incumbents and candidates are attempting to succeed in increasingly liberal states, a certain practical sympathy is in order.

In the party now there is too much ferocity, and bloody-mindedness. The other day Sen. Jim DeMint said he'd rather have 30 good and reliable conservative senators than 60 unreliable Republicans. Really? Good luck stopping an agenda you call socialist with 30 hardy votes. "Shrink to win": I've never heard of that as a political slogan.

Is it fully mature, and truly protective toward America, to be so politically exclusionary? [...]

The ground is shifting. It's hard to get your footing in an earthquake. As Republicans on the Hill try, they must also try to steady their party. It needs a greater sense of realism about its predicament. It needs less enforcement and more encouragement. It needs to inspire the young and the politically unformed not with bloodlust but with ideas.

A great party allows everyone in, and allows prospective members to self-define. If they say they're Republicans, they should be welcomed and helped to find a place where they fit. A great party has a lot of such places. A great party is expansive. A great party has give.

Read the whole marvelous piece and offer your thoughts.

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Peggy Noonan
Noel Sheppard's picture