Christine Todd Whitman Calls for Freeing the GOP From The Social Fundamentalists

Christine Todd Whitman and Robert Bostock argue that the Republican Party cannot win back the middle as long as it remains hostage to the social fundamentalists. They provide a reality check to all the conservatives who claim that the Republicans lost because they are not conservative enough, looking at all the states which went from Bush to Obama:

McCain didn’t lose those states because he failed to hold the base. He lost them because Obama broadened his base.

Nor did the Republican ticket lose because “values voters” stayed home. On the contrary, according to exit polls, such voters made up a larger proportion of the electorate this year than in 2004 — 26 percent, up from 23 percent. Extrapolating from those data, McCain actually won more votes from self-identified white evangelical/born-again voters than Bush did four years ago — 1.8 million more. But that was not enough to offset the loss of so many moderates.

Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party’s social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.

Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment’s notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party’s consent.

In the wake of the Democrats’ landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn’t support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don’t find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It’s long past time for the GOP to do the same.

The social conservatives do provide energy and money to the Republican ticket, leading some to believe their support is of benefit. Before the Bush years the Republicans would seek their support while laughing at them behind their backs, and then attempt to ignore the social conservatives once in office. By so visibly merging the Republican Party with the fundamentalists, the entire party is now laughed at in much the same way as Republican leaders previously laughed at the religious right. Educated voters were far more scared of a party which panders to creationists and threatens to bring back shirt hanger abortions than they were afraid of claims that Obama will redistribute wealth or that he palls around with terrorists.

US Ranks Poorly in Treatment of Chronic Disease

The Commonwealth Club has reported on a study in Health Affairs regarding care of chronic conditions in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The results find that more patients in the United States fail to receive recommended care due to cost than other countries. While conservatives often claim that universal care will lead to rationing and excessive waiting time for appointments, the study found that the United States, as well as Canada, did more poorly than the other countries with regards to waiting time.

Problems were also found to be greater in the care of chronic medical conditions, backing up the inclusion of improved disease management in Barack Obama’s health care plan.  I suspect that this is also related to our problems with dealing with such a poor system of reimbursement which takes up an exorbitant amount of time in medical offices.

A summary of their findings follows:

  • More than half (54%) of U.S. patients did not get recommended care, fill prescriptions, or see a doctor when sick because of costs, versus 7 percent to 36 percent in the other countries.
  • About one-third of U.S. patients—the highest proportion in the survey—experienced medical errors, including delays in learning about abnormal lab test results.
  • Similarly, one-third of U.S. patients encountered poorly coordinated care, including medical records not available during an appointment or duplicated tests.
  • The U.S. stands out for patient costs, with 41 percent reporting they spent more than $1,000 on out-of-pocket costs in the past year. U.K. and Dutch patients were most protected against such costs.
  • Only one-quarter (26%) of U.S. and Canadian patients reported same-day access to doctors when sick, and one-fourth or more reported long waits. About half or more of Dutch (60%), New Zealand, (54%), and U.K. (48%) patients were able to get same-day appointments.
  • A majority of respondents across the eight countries saw room for improvement. Chronically ill adults in the U.S. were the most negative; one-third said the health care system needs a complete overhaul.
  • In the past two years, 59 percent of U.S. patients visited an emergency room (ER); only Canada had a higher rate (64%). In both countries, one of five patients said they went to the ER for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor if one had been available.