For the last several decades, as nearly all political observers know, the two broad coalitions that make up the Republican Party are business interests (tax cuts, minimal regulation, free trade) and social/religious conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-church-state separation, pro-gun). The two didn’t necessarily have much in common, but they were under the same GOP tent, and they tried not to step on each other’s toes.
A front-page WSJ piece explained that half of that coalition is dejected and looking elsewhere.
The Republican Party, known since the late 19th century as the party of business, is losing its lock on that title.
New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party’s identity — what strategists call its “brand.” The votes of many disgruntled fiscal conservatives and other lapsed Republicans are now up for grabs, which could alter U.S. politics in the 2008 elections and beyond.
Some business leaders are drifting away from the party because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don’t share. In manufacturing sectors such as the auto industry, some Republicans want direct government help with soaring health-care costs, which Republicans in Washington have been reluctant to provide. And some business people want more government action on global warming, arguing that a bolder plan is not only inevitable, but could spur new industries.
It couldn’t have happened to a more appropriate group of people.