Republicans must remember the moderates

Now that the Republicans control the White House and Congress, the usual power split that can cause gridlock, has suddenly disappeared. Many Republicans are looking forward to several years of relatively unopposed legislative action. However, Republican politicians must remember that many Americans – if not most – do not wholly subscribe to the more conservative Republican vision. While the Republican Party has earned the right to determine the national agenda for the next several years, it must act responsibly and judiciously, respecting the core beliefs and values of those who do not agree completely with the legislative goals of more conservative Republicans.

There is no doubt that President George W. Bush’s popularity and hard work on behalf of Republican candidates contributed greatly to the Republican victory. Americans also seemed to respond to the Republican Party’s perceived strength on national security issues and the Republican drive for permanent tax cuts. There was also a sense the various Republican candidates on ballots this year were not extreme ideologues. Senator-elect Norm Coleman is the embodiment of the moderate Republicanism Americans responded to Tuesday night. Coleman’s leadership skills focus on economic development issues and emphasis on health care won the votes of a majority of Minnesotans. While in the Senate, it is important that Coleman focus on the issues he addressed during his campaign and block the advancement of the more conservative social agenda, an agenda that makes many Minnesotans uncomfortable. Minnesotans may soon see how he reacts to the conservative agenda. Republican Sen. Pete Domenici has indicated the Senate will consider drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an action the White House supports, very early in the next session. Senator-elect Coleman has said he would vote against drilling in the refuge. It is important that Coleman keep promises like these if he is to “make the state proud.”

Even beyond the borders of Minnesota it does not appear the swing voters who catapulted the Republicans to victory are clamoring for any great change in the core social ideas that have been developed over the last century. The continued protection of our national resources, the fortification of civil rights and the integrity of women’s reproductive rights are values that many Americans, including countless swing voters, still hold dear. While the American people have backed the Republican Party’s drive to fast-track the creation of a homeland security agency and rewrite portions of the tax code and Medicare, the Republican Party must realize it does not have a mandate to spoil our remaining natural areas, retreat on homosexual civil rights or overturn the laws supported by the Roe v. Wade decision.