Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Flight of Republican Moderates

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Flight of Republican Moderates

Article excerpt

Quietly behind the scenes, a split of exceedingly large and perhaps historic proportions is taking place within the Republican Party. Moderate Republicans, unhappy over what they see as the takeover of the party by the Christian right, are becoming an independent force in American politics.

At a recent Monitor breakfast the Democratic National Committee chairman, Gov. Roy Romer of Colorado, said that he'd seen convincing evidence that increasing numbers of Republican "moderates" are voting for Democrats, and that "the Republican split is bigger than the one we have in our own party."

This trend started way back when Republican moderates began to champion civil rights at a time when most of the party's leaders and the bulk of the GOP rank and file were still resisting black progress. That's when these moderates were calling themselves "Eisenhower," and, later, "Rockefeller" Republicans - as opposed to "Taft" and, later, "Goldwater" Republicans.

Even then, these more-liberal Republicans were able to bury their differences with the rest of the party every four years at presidential elections, keeping a Republican in the White House for much of the last half century.

But hatchet-burying time may be over.

Why are today's moderate Republicans - who really are in the "center" and not the "left" of the party - so incensed by the more conservative segment of the GOP? It's not because of differences over spending issues. The moderates are just as conservative on what they call "fiscal matters" as those to the right of them.

What is causing so many Republicans not only to look elsewhere but also to move elsewhere in national elections is their conviction that the Christian right is infusing religion into politics and into the Republican Party in a completely unacceptable way. They see the Christian right abridging the separation of church and state. …

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