True. Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman then suggests that what is really necessary is "a third party to break open our political system." Friedman realizes "that’s a long shot." But, then he proposes something altogether absurd:"The [GOP] has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.....[Y]ou can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions."
"What we definitely and urgently need is a second party — a coherent Republican opposition that is offering constructive conservative proposals on the key issues and is ready for strategic compromises to advance its interests and those of the country..... We need a 'Different Kind of Republican' the way Bill Clinton gave us a “Different Kind of Democrat.'"First, why is "coherent opposition" necessary at all? In what way would a "second party" help the social, technological, economic, and environmental advancement of these United States of America? Doesn't Mr. Friedman understand that, while intrinsic to our republican form of government, learned, rational opposition is not, generally, what creates good public policy? Rather, our most sweeping policy changes are usually the result of overwhelming political realignments, in which the Senate, the House of Representatives, the White House, and the Judiciary are controlled, albeit briefly, by one political party.
Second, we wonder how Mr. Friedman can believe that "A Different Kind of Republican" is even possible—even if this year's GOP nominee is "crushed" in November and "the party is forced into a fundamental rethink?"
Mr. Friedman, Republican primary voters are NOT frustrated because their field of candidates isn't "moderate" and "compromising" enough. If that were the case, Jon Huntsman would have led the pack. No. GOP primary voters are frustrated because they lack a candidate who possesses "the total package"—one who combines the charisma of Mr. Herman Cain, the pro-life fervor of Sen. Rick Santorum, business savvy of Gov. Mitt Romney, the creative intensity of Speaker Gingrich, the energy of Rep. Michelle Bachmann, with the independent spirit of Rep. Ron Paul.
GOP voters want the resurrection of Ronald Reagan—but this time, they prefer he speak with a “country” drawl.
This is the crux of the problem, the GOP has become, with few exceptions, an increasingly Southern/Great Plains/rural party. Have a look at any county-by-county map of election results; and the view is striking. The rural and exurban areas vote Republican and the urban areas vote Democratic. This is no accident. The Republican alliance is simply an extension of the Nixon campaign's 1968 "Southern Strategy," which saw the potential to leverage staunch anticommunism and social/civil rights issues to shear off the socially conservative, primarily southern, wing of the Democratic Party in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the economy stagnated in the late 1970s, candidates such as Ronald Reagan added taxes to the GOP narrative, while intensifying the their "pro-faith," anticommunist, anti-tax, anti-regulatory, and increasingly anti-government rhetoric in an effort to solidify support in rural America.
Thus, in the rare instances that MAJOR policy is effected in a truly bipartisan manner, regional and sectional alliances most often come into play. Indeed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was bipartisan but entirely sectional, as northern Democrats and Republicans came together in support of President Johnson's efforts, while Southern Democrats and Republicans almost universally opposed it.
Note to Tom Friedman: Our regional divisions have existed since the founding of our United States of America. The problem is that our "flattening world" is aggravating our rural/urban divide—and our Constitution only amplifies the dilemma by providing the agriculture, resource, and extraction states with an over-representation in both the Senate and the Electoral College. What may be good for the fine citizens of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana, might not necessarily good so for the people of Michigan, New York, California, and Massachusetts. And, yes, while Democrats are elected from Red States and Republicans are elected from Blue States, with rare exceptions, these occurrences are becoming fewer and fewer.
Mr. Friedman, please read some electoral maps, such as the one above. Ironically, when viewing the results of Election 2008 on a county-by-county basis, it appears that John McCain, and not Barack Obama, won in a landslide.
We don't need a "Second Party," Mr. Friedman. We need Blue State Secession—or, at least greater urban representation.