Left Turns: What's next as the GOP eats its young?

Left Turns: What's next as the GOP eats its young?

July 7th, 2013 in Opinion Times

There is no forum where listeners cannot hear the frustration, concern -- sometimes glee -- over what seems to be a growing cleft in the Republic Party.

The result is not just gridlock in Congress, it's also impasse within the GOP itself.

So the question begs: What opportunities does it offer to Democrats? And if the demise of the GOP as we know it is imminent, what challenges do Democrats face with whatever might rise from the Republican ashes?

Here's what state and local Democratic leaders think.

- The Times

Chip Forrester

Former chairman, Tennessee Democratic Party (2009-13)

Extreme right-wing Republicans are turning off young voters, women and minorities en masse. Hence their incredibly poor showing with President Obama's resounding re-election.

The Republican Party cannot win elections locally or even statewide as the party of hate, intolerance and bigotry.

Their close-minded, rigid approach may have worked for an old-fashioned America, but we are living in a 21st-century melting pot. In this new mix, young people are open to new ideas, we are welcoming immigrants and LGBT Americans who are seeking the American dream in our country.

As long as Republicans control the House of Representatives -- even if through legislative gerrymandering -- the GOP will be doomed to control by the radical right rather than those who are accepting of what America is.

This amazing demographic shift of openness and inclusiveness provides the natural glue for Democrats and is a hallmark of the Democratic Party. It will bode well for our future success. The party of inclusiveness will directly benefit from these demographic shifts.

Even "bright red" Tennessee saw four Democratic state House victories and four Democratic mayors, too, last November.

This trend continues as Tennessee Republicans carve out extreme far-right positions that hurt working men and women, teachers and children.

These far-right Volunteer-state GOPers also have not yet heard the call of progress, and in that failing are the seeds of their demise.

Chris Anderson

Chattanooga city councilman, District 7 and Tennessee Democratic Party executive committeeman, District 10

The U.S. Constitution requires that states redraw our political district lines every 10 years, after each new federal census is completed, to adjust to population changes. In previous years, both political parties have used this to their advantage. This time, however, many Republican-controlled state legislatures overreached in their efforts to create safe districts for themselves.

As a result of their betrayal of public trust, there are many districts at the federal, state and local level that are controlled by voters far to the right of most Americans. The Republican Party is at war with itself, and both sides will ultimately lose.

Instead of developing the next Barry Goldwater or pre-2008 John McCain, the modern Republican Party has decided to reincarnate figures like Joseph McCarthy through officials like Ted Cruz. The Grand Old Party is certainly old but not quite grand, showing no concern for what is best for the vast majority of Americans.

We have to recognize this opportunity and elect true progressives at every level of government -- starting first with our primary nominations. While Republicans continue to attack the rights of women, immigrants and working families, we have the responsibility to ensure equality, opportunity, and prosperity for all Americans.

Democrats continue to be the standard-bearers for progressive ideals. We have the responsibility to demonstrate those values and ideals to our country as Republicans continue to push their party to the right -- right over a cliff.

Elizabeth Crews

Political consultant and Democratic strategist

The Democratic Party must grow to have truly inclusive leadership in Tennessee before it can hope to benefit from the nationally weakened GOP and state Republican overreach. Walking down the hall of the state Democratic Party headquarters you are quickly greeted by the smiling faces of the past state Democratic Party chairmen, and with only one exception, the pictures are all of men.

Currently, only 21 of 95 Democratic county parties are chaired by women; that is a little over 22 percent. There is only one woman in our seven-member state delegation. Locally, of the 29 members of our legislative and executive elected officials (City Council, County Commission, school board and both mayors) of city and county government only three are women. Let me say that again, only 10 percent of our local government legislative and executive elected officials are women.

If we want to see our party thrive, not to mention our city, county and state, we have got to do a better job of empowering, engaging and supporting progressive women in leadership roles in public service.

My challenge to the progressive women out there -- run for local office. We need you, your passion, your commitment to public service. If you can't run for office -- get involved -- find someone who represents your values and support them. Write a check, knock on doors, make phone calls.

Hamilton County elections are coming up. Nominating petitions for County Commission are available for pickup on Nov. 22 and for school board on Jan. 3.

Let's have a progressive woman on the ballot for every district!