It's My Party TooTaking Back the Republican Party - and Bringing the Country Together Again
The Penguin PressISBN: 1-59420-040-8
I've been around politics long enough to know that it's not for the faint of heart. After all, I've spent most of my career in New Jersey politics, where extreme partisanship is an official state sport. Yet nothing I saw in my fifteen-plus years as an elected official prepared me for what I witnessed in Washington as EPA chief. As I tried to get productive business done in Washington, I had to ask myself, How had we come to such a sorry state of play? Why had the Democrats become so bitterly distrustful and battle ready?
Part of the answer is that more than perhaps ever before in modern times, the Republican party at the national level is controlled by extreme conservatives I call social fundamentalists who have no inclination to seek bipartisan consensus on anything. I remember a group of western Republican congressmen telling me early in my tenure at EPA that if they ever read a favorable editorial in The New York Times about the Bush administration's environmental policy, "We might as well still have a Democrat president."
What the social fundamentalists forget is that on most issues the middle ground is the productive ground. To these extreme conservatives, though, unless you oppose every gun control measure-including assault-weapons bans-you're not a real Republican. Unless you oppose abortion in every instance-including in cases of rape or incest-you're not a real Republican. Unless you think every environmental regulation is government overregulation, you're not a real Republican. Unless you support every tax cut every time-even if such cuts aren't tied to spending restraints-you're not a real Republican.
The inter-party battle has become so heated that moderate Republicans are being targeted. Longtime Senate Republican Arlen Specter confronted a vitriolic assault by conservatives in his 2004 primary campaign, spearheaded by the activist Club for Growth. Defending its attack on Specter, president Stephen Moore asserted, "It serves notice to Chafee, Snowe, Voinovich and others [all moderate Republican members of Congress] who have been problem children that they will be next." Trying to impose such rigid party discipline is not the American way, nor the Republican way.