How would the American public judge a President that establishes a new agency to protect the environment, signs an Endangered Species Act into law, and delays the construction of a canal (in Florida, no less)? At a time when not even one question during the 2012 Presidential Debates focused on climate change, the answer is: probably not so well. Clearly, if in 2012 the American public is focused on one single issue, it is the economy. And for Republicans, its is the kind of environmental protectionism embodied by the EPA, for example, that keeps the US economy from producing jobs. Case in point is the Keystone Pipeline.
Yet the very person who created the EPA, signed the Endangered Species Act into law, and delayed the construction of a canal in Florida is none other than President Richard Nixon. By today’s standards Nixon (even when considering he vetoed the Clean Water Act) would look more like a Democrat or center-right politician than a Republican. My point is that the Republican Party has drifted to the right on the political spectrum, and so far to the right that President Nixon would surly self-deport from the very party he led to victory some forty years ago.
Clearly there is a new political calculus for Republicans, and one that has a laser-like focus on a small set of issues: taxes, debt, and reducing regulations. While I realize this is a simplification (Republicans also want to end abortion, defund PBS, and end gay marriage), Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s proposed economic policies resonate far more strongly with Americans than any other of Romney’s messages to date.
Should Romney win, such a narrow policy approach would surely bring unforeseen costs, as I will argue in future posts. For now, however, it is clear that Mitt Romney not only represents a new class of Republicans, but ones that are redefining the political spectrum and what it means to be a member of the Grand Old Party.