GOP Split Hands NY 23rd to Democrats

Dear Editor,Since 2006, the GOP hasn’t had much to cheer about: embarrassing losses in the last two Congressional elections, and an electoral blowout in the 2008 presidential race, coupled with the losses of Arlen Specter (defection) and Norm Coleman (ousted by former SNL writer). Despite the reassurance of winning gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey on November 4th, the rift in the Republican Party was for the nation eyes to see in New York’s 23rd Congressional District special election as the GOP handed away yet another election to the Democrats. Several prominent Republicans, including Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and currently unemployed former Alaska governor Sarah Palin rebuked their own party’s nominee by endorsing Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. Candidate Obama won the New York 23rd in 2008 with the support of moderates; Republicans have an enrollment advantage in the district, located just across the lake from Burlington. The conservative wing of the GOP failed to see this trend. The moderates, torn between a staunch conservative and a moderate liberal, chose the latter. Former Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, instead of endorsing her party’s “new” candidate, instead gave the GOP the proverbial middle finger by endorsing Democrat Bill Owens, aiding his four-point victory over Hoffman. While delivering yet another blow to the GOP’s hopes of retaking Congress – this is the second special election they’ve lost this year in New York alone – the loss in the NY 23rd represents a much deeper problem. Only 1 in 5 Americans are registered Republicans. As a matter of fact, the fastest growing constituency in the nation is that of independents. The conservative base of the party continues to move towards the right, further from the ideological center of America. To win back control of Congress and the White House, the GOP has to appeal to the moderates it so clearly neglected in the NY 23rd. As Senator Jim Demint (R-SC) put it plainly, “[Republicans] can’t build a center-right coalition without the center part”. At best, the Republicans will get their act together and rally in the 2010 midterms. At worst, we could be looking at a permanent split of the Grand Old Party into the center-right and uber-conservative. Today’s Republicans look much like the lost Democrats during the Bush era. There is good news, though – the only way to go is up.Sincerely,Zach DespartSophomoreClass of 2012