The GOP Must Seize The Center Or Die

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 

2012 was a disappointing year for Republicans. The failure to win key swing states in the presidential election and surprising losses in the House and Senate have prompted some reflection. Was their embrace of small government, low taxes, and a strong conservative stance on social issues at odds with shifting American demographics? Or did the GOP embrace the right platform, but the wrong candidates?

  • David-Brooks90x90


    David Brooks

    Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

  • Mickey-Edwards90x90


    Mickey Edwards

    Former US Congressman (R), Oklahoma

  • Laura Ingraham90x90


    Laura Ingraham

    Host, The Laura Ingraham Show

  • ralph-reed90x90


    Ralph Reed

    Chairman, Faith & Freedom Coalition

  • Moderator Image


    John Donvan

    Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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For The Motion

David Brooks

Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

 Became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in September, 2003. He has been a sr. editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and he is currently a commentator on “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.” He is the author of Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (2001) and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense (2005), both published by Simon & Schuster.

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For The Motion

Mickey Edwards

Former US Congressman (R), Oklahoma

Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, is vice president of the Aspen Institute and the director of its public leadership program. After 16 years in Congress (1977-92) as a member of the house Republican leadership, Edwards spent 16 years teaching at Harvard, Georgetown and Princeton. In addition to serving as the national chairman of the American Conservative Union, he was one of three founding trustees of the Heritage Foundation and chaired task forces for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. A weekly columnist for The L.A. Times and The Chicago Tribune, Edwards published his most recent book Reclaiming Conservatism in 2008. He is currently a director of the Constitution Project and an advisor to the US Department of State.

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Laura Ingraham90x90

Against The Motion

Laura Ingraham

Host, The Laura Ingraham Show

Laura Ingraham is the most-listened-to female talk radio host in the United States. The Laura Ingraham Show is ranked in radio’s TOP 5, heard in hundreds of markets coast-to-coast, and is the third-most-streamed show in the country. Ingraham is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers including Of Thee I Zing, The Obama Diaries, Power to the People and Shut Up & Sing. She is a one of the most recognizable political and cultural commentators in print and on television, as one of the primary contributors on the FOX News Channel and the permanent substitute host on The O’Reilly Factor. In addition, she is a frequent guest on TODAY and other shows such as ABC’s This Week. Ingraham is a former white collar defense attorney and Supreme Court law clerk. She resides in Washington, D.C. with her three children Maria, Dmitri and Nikolai. Ingraham is a passionate advocate both for our troops and for domestic and international adoption.

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Against The Motion

Ralph Reed

Chairman, Faith & Freedom Coalition

Ralph Reed is founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Reed served as a senior advisor to George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and chaired the Southeast Region for Bush-Cheney in 2004. As chairman of the Georgia Republican Party he led the GOP to its biggest victory in history, helping to elect the first Republican Governor and third U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. Reed is chairman and CEO of Century Strategies, LLC, a public relations and public affairs firm. As executive director of the Christian Coalition from 1989-1997, he built one of the most effective public policy organizations in recent political history. Reed has been named one of the top ten political newsmakers in the nation by Newsweek, one of the twenty most influential leaders of his generation by Life magazine, and one of the 50 future leaders of America by Time magazine. He is the best-selling author and editor of five books, including his latest novel, The Confirmation (2010). Reed serves on the Board of Visitors for The University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs and on the Executive Board of the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a member of the Advisory Council of SafeHouse, a faith-based organization helping the poor and needy.

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Declared Winner: Against The Motion

Online Voting

Voting Breakdown:

56% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (45% voted FOR twice, 8% voted AGAINST twice, 3% voted UNDECIDED twice). 44% changed their minds (14% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 4% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 6% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 0% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 14% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 6% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic

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    • Comment Link Andrew Monday, 05 May 2014 07:28 posted by Andrew

      “The receding roar of a white America that is never coming back.” Eloquently stated, this could be the epitaph of the Grand Old Party.

    • Comment Link Luke Monday, 14 October 2013 20:40 posted by Luke

      I have come to expect a certain level of intellectualism in these debates that is absent in most mass media. Normally, this expectation is met because the debaters chosen are intellectuals and academics. This debate was a major disappointment to me because IQ2 invited a pundit (Laura Ingram) instead of their usual highly qualified debaters. I choose not to watch Fox and MSNBC editorials for a reason, and I do not want my IQ2 debates ruined by political pundits. Laura Ingram single handedly destroyed the intellectualism of this debate. Please do not invite unqualified debaters to your debates again IQ2.

    • Comment Link JDE Saturday, 07 September 2013 09:02 posted by JDE

      Watching Ralph Reed smirking while Laura Ingraham spoke, I wanted to slap the smug off his face. Meanwhile, Mickey Edwards called Reed a "good person" - he *isn't* a "good person"; he's a hardcore evangelical who's perfectly content with the idea of billions of his fellow human begins made to suffer eternally, so that he can have the existential security blanket for the few brief decades he's alive. I have no problem characterizing him as a psychopath.

      And they were all so eager to exonerate Reagan, whose embrace of the extremists on the Right, including the evangelical subculture, laid the foundation not merely for the ascendancy of those extremists, but for the socioeconomic debacle of the past several years.

      I hope Prof. David Long, who commented earlier, is correct in his prediction that the Republican Party will die an agonizing death - but even if it does, I very much fear the damage they've done is irreversible.

    • Comment Link L rutledge Saturday, 20 July 2013 16:14 posted by L rutledge

      It's amazing to hear David Brooks and Mickey Edwards speak so persuasively and with such practicality& reasonableness. And Ralph Reed and co. simply exemplifying all of the reasons why young people don't identify with their rigid far right ideology. He and Laura Ingram are living in an alternate reality along with most of the republican party which is simply going to drift completely beyond any kind of relevance, if it hasn't already. And they''l do it looking straight ahead, until they're so out there in their own little version of reality, that no one will even take notice their disappearance.

    • Comment Link Patrick Monday, 01 July 2013 18:28 posted by Patrick


      Adhi... he addressed this when he was running for president. He recognizes it would not be fair to just take away SS and MC from seniors after they paid into it their whole life. His plan was to offer those 25 and under the opportunity to "Opt out" of the program. They would no longer have to pay those taxes, but they were not going to receive any thing from the government either.

      And again, one of Ron Paul's biggest pushes was to end the corporate welfare and cronyism the biggest businesses recieved. It's the mainstream republicans and dems that rely on Wall St. RP's money came from individuals in mostly small amounts. Just go look at the top donors to Obama/Romney and then Ron Paul. Obamney is all of the Big Banks and corporations that get specisl treatment. RP's top donors are the different branches of the military (And the Reps tried to paint him as "out of touch" on defense!)

      Most negative critiques of Ron Paul are based on individuals not knowing the facts or misinformation.

    • Comment Link Prince Friday, 28 June 2013 10:25 posted by Prince

      As scary as the American lunatic frngie is on the right on this issue; I take solace from the fact that there are reasoned, competent, and compelling voices like Maddow who have taken it upon themselves to "out" Beck and his ilk. May they persevere!

    • Comment Link Adhi Friday, 28 June 2013 09:08 posted by Adhi

      Ron Paul sounds great. And to give him his due he has been great standing up to the fed. But notice Paul only talks about cutting taxes, cutting spending. Everyone wants that. But let him tell old people they cant have their medical paid for anymore. See how many old votes he gets. Let him tell wall street they will have to pay taxes like workers pay-- watch Ron Paul suddenly have no money. Ron Paul is no more honest than any of them. You can't be.

    • Comment Link Akash Friday, 28 June 2013 08:54 posted by Akash

      Paul, to me, seems to walk the fence between prophet-genius and lunatic, invariably losing balance and leaning heavily to one side or the other, but never falling off the fence, remarkably, even if he is teetering at an angle parallel to the ground. His comments, however, on CNN shortly after Mubarak had stepped down, were bang-on. To paraphrase: He openly criticized his government for never stating outright that Mubarak should step down and leave, and also stated that US foreign policy should not pick and choose which dictator they like and which they don't.

    • Comment Link Patrick Tuesday, 25 June 2013 12:38 posted by Patrick

      I love I squared, and good debate in general. This is not good debate. This is a waste of time, and compounds the problem.

      The problem is how much value we (and the pols) put into the (D) and (R). We need discussions on individuals and policy, not which gang is "better", the DemoCrips or RepubliBloods.

      In general, democrats ignore economic and other unintended consequences of their, usually, well intentioned ideas... as well as ignoring the Constitution when they see fit.

      Many republicans display so much cognitive dissonance by rallying for "smaller government" meanwhile supporting social causes that require big government... as well as ignoring the Constitution when they see fit.

      The answer lies in removing the massive amount of power in the parties. Until we as a country can wake up, and actually be a participatory republican-democracy (this requires an active, free media too!), we will continue to drown in worthless debates as the elite (political and corporate) horde power.

    • Comment Link David Long Sunday, 26 May 2013 03:17 posted by David Long

      As a professor of philosophy (emeritus) for almost 40 years, I taught 10,000 students the art of critical thinking, or, the art of crap detecting (crap within us and crap outside of us). After viewing the debate, I would flunk both Ingram and Reed. They would not survive my courses. I would give both Brooks and Edwards an A-. As it currently exists, the Republican party will die an agonizing death. People like Reed, and there are many, are trying to impose their religious views on the electorate. And Ingram's alliance with Fox debases her, for Fox thrives on people who lack intelligence, imagination, compassion, and any common sense. They are not democratic, but ideological fascists. Government at most levels is terribly broken. But the electorate is much to blame because they choose so many unqualified candidates and support a political process that runs on money, not principles. I hope we weather the hurricane storm, as we have in the past when government was in far worse shape than it now is. Both Republicans and Democrats are to be faulted.
      Reading Carroll Quiqley's 1300 page "Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time" will provide a desperately needed perspective. Reading my "Body Knowledge: A Path to Wholeness
      The Philosophy of Michael Polanyi" will be of some assistance also. Self-serving, myopic stupidity has always been the human race's operating mode, although we do have our sane moments. Look at casualty figures in WW I--37 million casualties, 16 million deaths, 20 million wounded, 10 million combatants, 7 million civilians. Is this sanity? Ending slavery is sane. Providing health care to 100's of millions is sane. Iraq and Afghanistan show we are neither wise, nor sane.The debate was informative and I think IQ2 is providing a great service to the country and to all of us. Keep it up.

    • Comment Link Evan Morris Monday, 29 April 2013 13:59 posted by Evan Morris

      At one point the side against, specifically Ralph Reed, brought up Goldwater as an example of the traditional strong conservatism that existed in the past. While I agree that Goldwater was staunchly conservative, I find it deeply ironic that a member ofthe Religious Right would point to Goldwater, since Goldwater considered the RR to be an invidious poison to the party. He had similar misgivings about the new breed of Neo Cons coming into the party.

      Republicans need to stop invoking Goldwater. Based on his comments I do not believe he would be a supporter ofthe current republican party.

    • Comment Link Phil Ashford Sunday, 28 April 2013 18:54 posted by Phil Ashford

      I vote against the proposition. Becoming democrat lite will only cause the conservative base to stay home. And why would any knee-jerk democrat switch votes when they are getting the class warfare mob message and promised freebies paid for by someone from the genuine left?

    • Comment Link Rebecca Hughes Sunday, 28 April 2013 18:46 posted by Rebecca Hughes

      I just received a survey from the RNC that was perfectly indicative of the problem... the questions were so skewed to be laughable. There was no desire to hear from the members - only a desire to reinforce the existing extremist, uncompromising beliefs of what amounts to a cabal controlling the platform.

      Igrahm is delusional if she thinks moderates lose elections because they're moderate - they lose because the GOP forces the primary candidates hard right, and that leaves the nominee in a terrible position in the general election, when moderate voters no longer trust the candidate IS a moderate and the hard right doesn't constitute a majority of voters.

      McCain and Romney were forced away from their natural centrist positions to push hard right in the primaries, and they were never able to recover. I voted for them both ONLY because i trusted that once in office they would get their guts back, tell the RNC hard liners to take a hike and govern from the center where they had been before the primaries.

      I am furious with the RNC and Republic party. I registered to vote as Republican when I was 18, but this party no longer represents me as a single woman. It is a party that believes government is bad - except when it wants to invade my body and my bedroom. 22% of citizens self-identify as Evangelicals BUT even an Evangelical researcher admitted that only 7% actually live by the true Evangelical platform.

      Ultimately, the United States is not a Theocracy and the modern Republican party is determined that the American public wants one - which is ironic, because it's also generally xenophobic and Islamaphobic - and if the same statements coming from many Republican legislators were coming from Muslims, the party would rail against it. Where did separation of church and state go?

      All the polls the party quotes are pointless because the phrasing is so extremely biased. If you ask are you in favor of gay marriage, you get a statistically different outcome than if you ask if you are in favor of marriage equality. If you ask whether the public are in favor of "some" kind of restriction on abortion, you will get a different outcome than if you ask whether someone favors outlawing abortions after 12 weeks. Obsfucation is the party's only method to get polls to come out in their favor anymore.

      BTW - it's a fascinating difference between the in-person and on-line voting. I'd like to know the average age and ethnicity and gender of the in-person audience, compared to the online audience.

    • Comment Link Jamal Jordan Friday, 26 April 2013 16:38 posted by Jamal Jordan

      I think the proposition itself is flawed, "The GOP Must Seize The Center Or Die." I would argue the GOP has moved so far to the right that what was once a Republican is now a moderate or conservative Democrat. If anything, the Democrats need to move further left because the entire political paradigm has shifted to the right. Otherwise, I enjoy listening to the show.

    • Comment Link Spec Tuesday, 23 April 2013 17:47 posted by Spec

      The Republican dug their own grave. They sided with the wrong side of history on gay rights and preemptive wars and it has now come back to haunt them. And 'cutting taxes' is not an evergreen policy. As Reagan found out, eventually you cut too far and just create massive deficits. So they just have no useful policy prescriptions to offer.

    • Comment Link Tiring Saturday, 20 April 2013 02:52 posted by Tiring

      Two observations:

      1. Why did Ralph Reed and Laura Ingraham feel it necessary to incessantly argue the parameters of the topic of the debate. Both Mr. Reed and Ms. Ingraham knew well beforehand what the topic would be. Both agreed to take part. Both used not merely their openings but repeated statements throughout the event to alter or even denigrate the debate's central topic.

      2. Ms. Ingraham's effort disappointed me. I find Ms. Ingraham to be a credible intellect with a trained background and a fine education. Yet Ms. Ingraham repeatedly made sarcastic comment, talked over and around issues, interrupted other speakers, and, in general, acted as if she were talking her daily radio show and NOT a public debate featuring three other individuals. Ms. Ingraham's efforts or lack thereof and rather unprofessional, rude attitude really reduced the quality of not only her own arguments and positions.

    • Comment Link fred b Thursday, 18 April 2013 18:51 posted by fred b

      "...the party of...economic growth, job creation..." When the GOP stops pandering to economic bullies such as Big Oil, Big AG and Big Pharma, when they take a stand against the corrupting influence of money on the US political system, when they support the seemingly inevitable necessity for job creation and economic growth through a green tech lens and a return to (at least moderate) tariffs and import quotas to keep jobs in this country, they'll see nothing from me but the back of my head.

    • Comment Link Richard Fluhman Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:52 posted by Richard Fluhman

      In my opinion: there should be no political parties. All independent elected representatives should represent the citizens Not the lobbyists, etc.

    • Comment Link Martin Thistle Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:45 posted by Martin Thistle

      Republicans just need to disappear. It's highly unlikely they have what it takes to evolve into a more thoughtful, caring political party. They are modern day Whigs, and they should take the same path to oblivion that party was relegated to. The Repugnican platform contains far too many ideas which simply don't make sense in today's modern societies, and they express these antiquated ideas with words and phrases that have lost most of their meaning or impact; words such as Freedom, Justice, Opportunity, small government, Free Markets, and the like. I've got an idea; instead of 'small' government(which works best to promote the needs of the extremely rich), how about an appropriately-sized government that works for all(irrespective of size). Republican freedom is a sham as well; republicans only want true freedom for the wealthy, drones and SWAT teams and unwarranted surveillance and Gitmo for the rest of us poor schmucks. We as a society would be better off if they simply disappeared.

    • Comment Link Kathleen Berger Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:38 posted by Kathleen Berger

      I would like to think the GOP could naturally move towards center, but I think it would be more of a manipulation to appear more towards center. Must they or die? I think they really do need to move more towards center but a part of me (untrusting of their motives) , would like to see them (truthfully not die) but evolve to a less inhumane group of people. Therein lies our differences...sympathetic vs. unsympathetic to the sufferings of life. They must do what they must do until they are awoken; my hope today is that some will hear the cry of the people! On further thought, don't seize center just die, rebuild from a healthier platform.

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