"The people of this county deserve better from their politics and their politicians than they've been getting in recent years," writes Christine Todd Whitman in It's My Party Too
. While hardly high praise for George W. Bush from a former member of his Cabinet (she served as director of the Environmental Protection Agency from January 2001 to May 2003), the real targets of her ire are some of her fellow Republicans who have forced the GOP to make a hard-right turn in recent years. Whitman argues that this shift poses a serious threat to the long-term health and competitiveness of the Republicans, a party in which moderates like Whitman, Colin Powell, Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and George Pataki are paraded in public when necessary, but openly opposed behind the scenes. Whitman refers to those on the far right as "social fundamentalists" whose "mission is to advance their narrow ideological agenda" by using the government to impose their views on everyone else. Though she admits that evangelicals may have helped to win the 2004 election, they have claimed much more credit than they deserve for Bush's success, and she warns that catering to this narrow group will have consequences.
To achieve long-term success, she writes, the Republicans must move their focus back to the core issues that unite the true base of the party: less government, stronger national security, lower taxes combined with spending restraints, and job creation in the private sector--issues that have largely been pushed aside by efforts to ban abortion and embryonic stem cell research and a push to amend the Constitution to prohibit gay marriage. She also offers ideas for attracting more African Americans and women to the GOP, and highlights Republican environmental successes that have been ignored. It's My Party Too is a compelling analysis of the future of the Republican Party. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
It's her party and she'll cry if she wants to. Former EPA Chief and New Jersey governor Whitman laments the rightward shift in the Republican party, concerned that it "will now move so far to the right that it ends up alienating centrist voters and marginalizing itself." In her view, the aggressive tactics of the "social fundamentalists," to whom "the concept of choice...is anathema," are to blame. Only if centrists transform themselves into "radical moderates-people ready to fight for what they believe even if it makes waves in the party," can the party restore its equilibrium. Whitman explores her own GOP heritage and her adventures and misadventures with hot button issues like abortion, stem cell research, race, the environment and women's rights, reinforcing the party's distinguished record. For example, she points out that Republicans ensured passage of the Civil Rights Act and created the Clean Air Act. If moderates would only stand up for themselves, she contends, the party platform could return to the essential issues-"fiscal restraint, reasonable and open discussion of social issues, environmental policies that promote a balanced approach to environmental protection, and a foreign policy that is engaged with the rest of the world." While the writing is straightforward and the anecdotes interesting, the account drifts from its core theme, culminating in a plea to visit a grassroots Web site and a generic suggestion for "issues-oriented campaigns." Nowhere does Whitman identify who these social fundamentalists are, what they want or why they have proven so powerful in today's electoral environment despite being outnumbered. Though this book succeeds as an overview of the Republican party's accomplishments, it's a less than adequate battle plan for moderate Republications looking to attain their past glory.
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