On the tennis court this morning, I faced the old “go left, go right” decision several times. If I chose the wrong direction, my opponent could hit the ball in the opposite area and I would be burnt like toast. A deeper consideration of that situation states that a player can accelerate in the current direction but changing direction is almost impossible. In the 70s, we called that “the wrong foot” or “caught you leaning.”
Politics mirrors sports at times and a person’s temperament on the field, court, or even playing chess tells you about his nature in business and elsewhere. My opinion on “what’s next” in American politics was incorrect. If I thought center, the South when right and I “got caught” leaning.
When the conservative movement swept the nation, the Blue Dogs emerged as a moderate division of the Democrat Party, a home for those who felt the Right was too far right. I naturally assumed that a similar moderate subdivision of the Republican Party would materialize after the election results of the last few years. At this point, the situation is the opposite. If you listen to conservative friends, you will learn that the commitment the Right has to their core principles is unwavering and inflexible. If the general public wants to vote differently, those voters must be collectively mistaken about the best interests of our nation.
As I have written in the past, the GOP has a short bench of rising stars who could challenge the Democrats on issues, budget and logic; Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin comes to mind. Unfortunately, others are more appealing to their base. We likely will not see a fresh crop of positive GOP candidates against the Blue Dogs in the South next year. As General Colin Powell recently pointed out on Larry King, there are legitimate concerns with the speed and spending of the Democrats. However, the GOP is opting for red meat candidates from the far right rather than those who could appeal to the center—great idea for the primary season but the general election is a different matter. Of course, it is their party and they will live with the results of their strategies.
The alarming part to me is that the leader of “what’s next” from the Right will not be Gingrich with his intellect or Romney with his command of the business world and financial markets. You and I both know who is the next leader of the Right and what she will need to do and say to win; put on your seatbelt and prepare for a bumpy ride.
I personally like Michael Steele and hope that our community will have an opportunity to better connect politically with our obvious conservative nature in the South. However, going from a Blue Dog moderate to the far right is seriously wrong foot. We will see how this situation plays itself out but don’t asked me because I often lean wrong.
Bottomline: Will we see smoother GOP candidates or will others prevail? If the GOP wants to push all moderates and centrists out, I am sure the Blue Dogs will take them. To finish the tennis parallel relative to politics, I tend to hang in the middle and go short distances left or right. If you drift far left or far right, the other guy can pass you with ease.