12 January 2009

GWB to GOP: Open your Minds

A followup to a post on Alex Massie's critique of the GOP's adulation of Reagan, which results, he argues, in a narrowing definition of who is or isn't "a Republican," I offer George W. Bush's take on the GOP's "tent":

"It's very important for our party not to narrow its focus, not to become so inward looking that we drive people away from a philosophy that is compassionate and decent," the departing president said in an interview broadcast Sunday, nine days before his term ends. "My call for our party is to be open-minded."

[Following Democratic gains in Congress in 2006 and 2008, and Barack Obama's election] Republican leaders are re-examining both their message and their messengers. Bush said the party need not change its basic tenets such low taxes and a strong defense. But he warned that there ought not be any "litmus tests as to whether or not you can be a Republican."

"We should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we're viewed as anti-somebody — in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant, then another fellow may say, `Well, if they're against the immigrant, they may be against me.' We've got to be a party for a better future." (AP)

The message that might not appeal to many Republicans, if only because Bush leaves office with record-breaking disapproval ratings. But his suggestions are worth considering. The 2006 and 2008 GOP defeats were not due merely to the president: the party's message has well and truly broken down.

Aside: Unfortunately, this encouragement to "open your minds" seems focused on immigration reform, which is a significant issue, but it's only one of many.

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