Why Isn’t There a Republican Version of the DLC?

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There are a small number of prominent moderate Republican apostates around. David Frum. Andrew Sullivan. Ross Douthat on certain subjects. But given the obvious need for the party to rein in its crazies, why isn’t there an apostate organization that fills the same centrist niche the DLC filled for Democrats in the 80s? The perfect person to explain this would be Ed Kilgore, who was policy director for the DLC back in the day, and apparently someone at the New Republic read my mind and assigned him to write a column about this. It’s an insightful look at what motivated the creation of the DLC and why something similar isn’t likely to happen on the right. Ed lists five reasons, and I was especially intrigued by #2:

Alienated elected officials. The DLC’s real “base” was among congressional, state and local elected officials—not just in the South, but in every competitive state and region—who feared the national party (and the interest and constituency groups that were thought to control it) were in the process of dragging them towards defeat. The dominant Republican office-holders today at every level are products of two GOP landslides—1994 and 2010—that were accompanied by an aggressive, ideologically conservative message. On that basis, there’s no reason to think that any Republican revolt against the “presidential party” will be “centrist” in any tangible way.

The whole piece is worth a read. The Republican Party desperately needs an active, creative DLC of its own, but if Ed is right, it simply doesn’t have the internal incentives to support one. For the foreseeable future, it will remain Michele Bachmann’s party, not Mitt Romney’s.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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