How do you think the National Republican Party will respond to its second consecutive pummeling? Will it move farther to the right or more toward the center?
I’m an independent now. I thought long and hard for six months before I left the party after I lost. Is the Republican Party going to swing back to my kind of priorities — fiscal conservatism, personal liberties, not getting involved in foreign quagmires, the environment is an important issue? I decided it’s not; that’s why I left, and there are many like me.
I knew that when I was running in 2006. I found it very, very difficult to raise money from my kind of Republicans. They weren’t giving any more — they’re gone. So my fear is that the voices of moderation, the voices that stand strong on the issues and the priorities that I just talked about — fiscal conservatism, the environment, personal liberties, fear of foreign entanglements — they’re not there any more, and I think it’s going to swing to the right, back to Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. They’ll still be there, screaming at the top of their lungs.
When Bush won in 2004, Karl Rove predicted a long period of Republican hegemony. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Now, many predict a period of Democratic dominance. Do you agree, and how much of a political realignment do you expect?
The trouble is that the big sections of the country, the red states — there are still red states, so I don’t see any kind of broad consensus. The Karl Rove strategy of energizing the base divides the country, the issues of abortion and gay marriage, social issues, flag-burning even — we had a constitutional amendment when I was there, on banning flag-burning. Those kinds of issues divide the country and make it very difficult to govern. That’s been the flaw in the Rove strategy: yes, we’re successful at dividing the country and maybe winning elections, but we’ve been an utter failure in governing. And that’s brought us to where we are now.
There are parts of the country, some of the Western states, you still see McCain winning big in certain states, double-digit [pre-election] leads in some states, so I think it’s going to be difficult. That’s a consequence of the historic shift in my lifetime of the South, going from conservative Democrats to conservative Republicans. The Democratic Party always had those Southern conservatives and then the Northern liberals, and somehow they coexisted. The Republican Party — all those Southerners — became Republicans, but they kicked out the moderates. They primaryed us, insulted us, called us RINOs [Republicans in Name Only], and drove us out of the party.