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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 10, 2008 at 3:42 PM

Dino Rossi’s defeat and the GOP

We wanted to know the issues

What an utterly tone-deaf analysis by State Attorney General Rob McKenna as to why Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi was defeated [“State GOP confident despite loss,” Politics, Nov. 9]. I voted for McKenna but will not make that mistake again.

McKenna thinks Rossi ran a “very good campaign.” There was nothing he could have done differently and the loss was due to a “tough external environment.” How did that environment affect McKenna? He won by nearly 20 points.

I’d suggest McKenna turn to page B10 of the same day’s paper and read Joni Balter’s excellent piece [“Positive lessons from negative ads,” editorial columnist, Nov. 9]. Like the man at the top of the GOP ticket, Sen. John McCain, Rossi ran a gimmicky, very negative campaign that lacked seriousness, in a very serious time.

Like McCain’s Joe the plumber, Rossi had the baby in stinky diapers. Instead of specific proposals, we heard about McCain’s heroism 40 years ago and Rossi’s budget work five years ago. They never told me why I should vote for them. Certainly, Obama and Gov. Christine Gregoire threw plenty of mud, though nothing at the level of Rossi and McCain.

I think after the past eight years of federal bungling, voters are looking for politicians who display competence, even in their campaign. That is why I voted for Obama, Gregoire and McKenna. That last vote I’ll not repeat.

— John Whittaker, Vashon Island

The death of the Republican Party

Does this stuff remind anyone of the blindness of the Federalists or the Whigs [“GOP split on how to retool message,” Politics & Government, Nov. 9] Political parties come and go. In the modern era parties don’t evolve from pure ideas; they evolve out of fragments or factions of parties that either collapsed or splintered. Some of the ideas of the Federalists (strong federal government, as opposed to strong state governments) found their way into the Federal Democrats, and some of their ideas (aristocratic leadership) were completely discredited by the egalitarianism of the Jacksonian era. The Whigs faded when their ideas no longer appealed to Americans who had already accepted the ideas of the Democratic Party (the need for a national bank and the need for open markets, among others) and the Whig Party was seen as too distant from the passions of what became the dominant political conflict of the mid-19th century in America: slavery and states’ rights against intensifying abolitionist sentiment, containment of slavery in the deep south and an increasing role for the federal government in the life of the nation.

Doesn’t what we have seen of persistent Republican focus on social mechanisms of oppression and a growing demonization of science remind you of the blindness that led to the demise of the Federalists and the Whigs? James Rosen’s story exemplifies what I’ve thought for some time, that if we are to make our way into the future as a viable nation we must stop fighting yesterday’s social wars. And that does not mean surrender to the social conservatives.

Is the center of American politics finally tiring of those wars? Are they giving up on Republicanism and moving on? Will the center grow at the expense of a shrinking, increasingly reactionary Republican Party, and will that center end up breaking away, formally, to form a new party, taking with it the viable ideas of traditional conservatism and leaving behind a perpetually disgruntled rump that is enlivened only by a discredited social conservatism that has showed itself capable of oppression but incapable of governing?

One can only hope.

— Bill McCauley, Auburn

Comments | More in Governor's race, Politics, Washington Legislature

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