The Rise of the Rockefeller Republicans and how they can save the GOP from Trump

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First, you're probably wondering. What is a Rockefeller Republican and what does it have to do with Trump? A Rockefeller Republican is a Republican named after former Vice President Nelson Rockefeller who served under President Ford. They are Republicans who hold fiscally conservative or moderate views on the economy and socially moderate or liberal views on domestic and social issues. In short they're moderate Republicans. The Rockefeller Republicans were popular during the 1960s and faded with the rise of Ronald Reagan in the late 70s and early 1980s with his election victory in 1980. They still exist today, but they're often called moderate Republicans rather than Rockefeller Republicans. When in reality they're the same thing. They're just synonymous. I myself call myself a Rockefeller Republican. Now let's cut to the chase.

No one ever would've believed the bare bones campaign of Donald Trump ever would've made it past Cleveland without chaos let alone win the 2016 election. But it happened and here we are deep in a Russia investigation that plagues our national life, our television sets, and our minds. We face a country more divided than its been in decades, a congress that shuts down the government, a party out of control, porn stars involving the President's personal life, and a President who shoots from the hip. The rise of Trump not only yielded to the rise of nationalism and populism, but the rise of a resurgent moderate Republican wing that I believe is the real silent majority. In the aftermath of 2016 the Republicans faced a choice - get with the program and side with Trump or pack up and get out. Then there were those who decided to stay and fight. They might not be winning many battles now. But they hold the most popular governor's seat in the nation in Massachusetts in Charlie Baker. They're the former governor of Massachusetts in Mitt Romney and ambassadors to Russia in Jon Huntsman. They hold senate seats in Maine in Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. They are the governors of Ohio in John Kasich and are the writers of books called, "The Conscience of a Conservative: The Rejection of a Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle" by Arizona's outgoing senator Jeff Flake. These Republicans exist. Instead of leaving the party these men and women stayed. Two are pondering a challenge to Trump in 2020 and rightfully so. They refuse to let the conservative movement be hijacked by right wing populistic demagogue who uses twitter diplomacy to seem presidential.

For too long a time the Republicans have fell too long in line with what they could end up with in voting for rather than fighting for what they believed was best for conservatism and the country. They've lost their values, but they can regain them. It's not only going to take the current people I've mentioned. It will take a titanic amount of conservatives who have been left out and left behind. The GOP can no longer be a legitimate party if they work to become the party of the white man in a rapidly changing country where hispanics and the culture wars are winning. They are running against the tide. Either they need to adjust to the times and accept same-sex marriage and gay adoption as the new reality and be open to more pro-choice candidates or they will lose millenials. Millenials are flocking to the Democrats and registering with "no party affiliation" more than ever before. As a Clinton aide once put it, "It's the economy stupid!” I can paraphrase and say, "It's the millenials stupid!" They are the future of not only the Republican Party, but of the country as a whole. They face an entitlement crisis, an immigration system at the breaking point, and a debt that will burden their generation and generations to come. We do not have time to run neo-Nazis, racists, sexists, xenophobes, and everything in between for public office. The challenges we face are serious and they are real. It's time for Republicans to grow up and get real. It will not be easy to defeat these types of people, but one person standing up and saying what's going to be unpopular and making some uncomfortable is worth it.

If we become Democrats and flee the GOP we are surrendering the conservative movement to Trump and we will lose. Young Republicans are uncomfortable in the age of Trump. They support gay marriage. They support a woman's right to choose. They believe in climate change and environmental solutions. They deserve representation in the Republican Party because they are the future. These are the Rockefeller Republicans of the 21st century. These will be the men and women who will go up against a Democratic Party that has decided to lurch farther to the left and out of the American mainstream. This is a fight worth fighting for and Trump must lose. The Republican Party can be the party of inclusion again. We were the party that gave women the right to vote, we were the party of civil rights, and we were the party of inclusion. Now what are we? The party that denies facts and calls fake things real and real things fake? We are better than this and the young people know this. We need to be a 21st century party with 21st century thinking and rationale to make the hard choices. It's not enough to win a primary. It’s more about having a compassionate and understanding practical message the voters can relate to. We can adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles. I refuse to believe we can't do this. We've done it before. We can do it again.

Patrick Murray's picture
Patrick Murray