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Conservative and Republicans - Fraying at the Seams

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More signs the conservatives and the Republican Party are in trouble - conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote November 29th edition of the Washington Post about a new ten point conservative checklist that candidates will have to meet to be endorsed by the Republican Party. How far will they go to narrow their base? We in organized labor have always been leery of litmus tests. How about ten litmus tests?

Ms. Parker calls the conservative list a "suicide pact of alleged Republican issues." She goes on to say that "the problem is that many conservatives have lost faith in the ability of Republican leaders to think." This mirrors conservative pundit David Brooks complaint about today's GOP.

Remember George Bush's exaggerated anti-intellectualism? And Sarah Palin's inability to name one newspaper or periodical she reads? Or the boorishness of the current Republican Members of Congress - including at a presidential speech?

Ms. Parker also states that "suicide pact is so overly broad and general that no thoughtful person could endorse it in good conscious."

Now that is a news flash - a major national conservative columnist calling a conservative manifesto a violation of good conscience.

A just released Washington Post poll offers tested evidence of the fraying of conservatives and the Republican party. 42% of Republicans say their party leadership is taking the party in the wrong direction - up from 23% in 2005. And 18% identify Sarah Palin as the Republicans leader who "best reflects the core values of the Republican Party." No wonder only 22% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans - the lowest since 1981.

Very significantly, the Washington Post poll finds that the Republican Party is splitting internally on social issues like abortion and marriage equality.

None of this suggests the 2010 elections will be a cakewalk for Democrats and Progressives - or that anyone can sit back and watch the Republican Party fail.

But it is undeniable that the powerful yet ultimately fragile coalition stitched together by Ronald Reagan and rightwing religious leaders is coming apart. It was brilliant coalition work but eventually undermined the internal contradictions in the Bush Administration and the mocking of core conservative principles by the likes of Sen. David Vitter, Sen. Larry Craig, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Mark Foley, and the sexual bribery of Sen. John Ensign.

Progressives and Democrats must stay focused on polices that strengthen America by strengthening America's working families - real, fundamental health care reform, the freedom to form unions, the reestablishment of the common good, restoring America's economic might starting with good jobs, fair trade, and reindustrialization.

We are living in a wonderful moment for progressives. Keep fighting.