Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Republicans Should Combine Pragmatism, Purity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Republicans Should Combine Pragmatism, Purity

Article excerpt

On the one hand, last Tuesday's election results offer Republicans no silver lining. In addition to Mitt Romney's loss, Republicans were creamed in too many gimme Senate elections. GOP candidates came up short because the party turned itself into a reflection of its most extreme elements, which oppose -- to the death -- any compromise.

Yet four Republican governors -- including one net gain -- were elected, bringing to 30 the number of Republican-led states. Why? Because executives can't afford ideological purity. They don't look at "reasonable compromise," "common ground," "win-win" or "big tent" as anathema. They stand on principle when they ought to -- as Scott Walker has done in Wisconsin -- but usually understand the need to achieve reality-based results.

For GOP faithful, turning things around will require exorcising a tendency over the past several years to divide the electorate and narrow party membership. Remember when there were Reagan Republicans and Reagan Democrats? Perhaps we could try out a new tag line: The new Republican Party -- putting the best of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan to work for America.

Republican reformers will earn crossover appeal by developing ideas for fiscal discipline, right-sized government, entitlement reform and business friendliness. They should also show support for such values as personal accountability, meritocracy, equality of opportunity and national pride. Social policies will remain relevant, but party leaders must avoid prioritizing highly divisive issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. Instead, Republicans should stress more mainstream policies that promote and preserve intact families, in-wedlock births and school choice. These are conservative sentiments, to be sure, but ones with rock-solid support across different demographic groups.

And while new Republicans will oppose unelected judges making social policy, the party must acknowledge the body politic's right to choose whether it wants to consider marriage as a union of only one man and one woman, or otherwise. …

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