Can the Republicans and the Democrats work together to solve the real serious problems this country will be encountering in the upcoming weeks such as the “fiscal cliff”-- that could spell sure economic disaster if there is no resolution?
These are the general themes I discussed with Margaret Hoover, who is one of the panelists attending the Fourth Annual Bipartisan Policy Summit being held at Tulane University in New Orleans November 15.
Hoover is a member of the BiPartisan organization that brings leaders from the political and government industry together to massage some of the very prickly issues that has caused great debate and which has fractured our communities, in so many ways.
For those who do not know, Margaret Hoover is a CNN contributor, the wife of co-contributor John Avlon, who is also senior columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. She is a “veteran” of the Bush administration White House, an author and great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover.
Here is the transcript of today’s telephone interview conducted by Bayoubuzz.com publisher, Stephen Sabludowsky:
Stephen Sabludowsky: We look forward to seeing you again at this Bipartisan event this Thursday.
So tell me, now that this big election is over, looking at it from say 10,000 feet above, what do you think of it?
Margaret Hoover: Well, I think - you know I’m a republican - and I have a hard time denying the reality that the GOP got trounced this election cycle, and the worst part of it is we didn’t even know how badly. I was getting reports from the field that Romney would be elected President that evening. So, you know, there is a major breakdown on many, many levels that I think is causing the Republic universe, or the Conservative universe such as it is, to retreat sort of silently back, and you don’t hear a lot in the media, and the press and the news reports right now other than, “Wow, we’re going to need to take some time to reflect, and figure out what went wrong.” And it’s not just the tactical campaign stuff on game day that you hear with the “Get out the vote” system that the Romney campaign had that had a massive breakdown, but it’s really a strategic 30,000 foot – we were selling a lot of goods that folks weren’t buying, and, “where is the country going?” and “do we need to rethink what we’re selling?” or “do we need to repackage what we’re selling?” or “do we need to do a little bit of both?” And we need to sort of look at who the Republican Party is, and who we want it to be in 20 years, in 30 years, in 40 years, and what the country is going to look like. That’s a little bit of the work that I’ve been doing for the last three years anyway, I’ve focused a lot on the Millennial generation, I wrote a book about the Millennial generation and how the Republican Party needs to reach out to the Millennial generation, and how we can sell our goods to the Millennial generation without changing fundamentally what they are, but making them relatable.
For example: on debts, and deficits and spending, I think the Republican Party has the best message for the next generation, because if the spending continues, it is stealing from one generation – one generation will be paying for the livelihood that other generations have had, in a way that’s unsustainable, so the kids, the Millennials, the 30-and-unders, are going to have to pay for it in the form of a worse economy, a more sluggish economy and higher taxes, and that’s a message that (David) Axelrod even suggested he was worried about in this election, but the Republicans simply weren’t able to make a compelling case about debts and deficits in a way that was convincing to the Millennial voters.
Stephen Sabludowsky: Is it possible that the case they were making was, say, clouded by some of the morality issues, some of the social issues?
Margaret Hoover: I don’t .. – Just so you know, I’m a Republican who is in favor of gay marriage, I’m a socially moderate if you want to call it socially moderate, or a Progressive, but deeply fiscally conservative and believe in a strong national defense. I’m a pretty different breed of Republican. I think with the Millennial it does get it a little clouded, actually. It’s one of the criticisms I get from the right, as a Republican is that people say if we just change our position on gay marriage, the kids aren’t just going to become Republicans, we need to have more than just that, because the Democrats are for that, so then what makes us different? To your point, I do think it clouds it because they just have such a different world view when it comes to the social issues, especially their gay friends. I do think it just stops them from being able to look at the rest of what we have to offer.
Stephen Sabludowsky: Right, it seems to me, and let throw this out to you along that line, it seems that bridging these gaps – I mean there’s a gap between the social person, the economic Republicans – there is a major gap that is between the Republicans and the Democrats on the issue of just Obama alone, I am sure you have read there are people in over 22 states that are signing petitions to secede from the union – this gap is just incredible, I’m just wondering whether or not we’re able to mend it, or if there’s a real movement to actually break apart. How do we control this?
Margaret Hoover: It seems to me, and I’m not familiar with the petitions, I’ll have to look at them, but that seems to me to be a fringe element – I mean that is just not a mainstream feeling. If you went out and polled Americans the day after the election, or even on the day of the election and asked if they wanted to secede from the union, you’re not going to get majority of the people, the majority of the people voted for Barack Obama. And even though a lot of people were less enthusiastic about him this time than last time, about 10 million less people voted in this election, the turnout was much lower this election than the last election. Sure, there are people who are deeply upset and worried about the future of the country, and some of that may be expressed in a fringe movement to secede, but in terms of that really being a threat, I can’t take that seriously. Sure you have people who are upset, but secession is – well, you’re in Louisiana, you know that has an entirely different context. The question in terms of the Bipartisan Policy Center, especially with what we’re going to be doing next week, is looking at, “Where is the common ground? Where can we begin to piece it back together? And how can we all be helpful?” Because that is our patriotic duty, our patriotic duty isn’t to secede.
Stephen Sabludowsky: Sure, now just to play Devil’s Advocate, yes absolutely we need to find common ground, but it seems to me there is very little common ground within the Republican Party right now. Certainly, the debt and the deficits, but other than that, where is it?
Margaret Hoover: Within the Republican coalition?
Stephen Sabludowsky: Well, the Republican Party. And likewise, I think we could have said that two years ago, there was little common ground within the Democratic Party.
Margaret Hoover That’s certainly true. Republicans are going to have to work that out, and I hope to be part of that conversation, and continue being part of that conversation. That is certainly a problem Republicans are going to have, and you hear them doing it. There have been OpEds, I just tweeted one this morning from a friend in New Hampshire, but I’ve seen these OpEds in multiple states – Colorado, New York, Illinois, California – especially blue state GOP’s rethinking how do they bring the GOP back to life in a blue state? And then how do you bring the GOP back to life nationally? In a way it gets competitive. Now we won’t have an elected leader for another four years. John Boehner is going to be the highest ranking republican, but he represents one district in Ohio and the House of Representatives. He’s the highest ranking leader of the party, but it just doesn’t replace having a president who really can shape and form a party, so there is going to be, I call it warlordism, I think it is a factualism that can become quite intense and the Republicans are going to have to work that out, but in the interim the country has some serious, serious issues to face. I think what’s encouraging is, not a change in tone, but the way Boehner and Obama are talking about this is leaving room for progress to happen at the negotiating table. Neither of them are drawing exclusive lines in the sand in their rhetoric right now, and the truth is, to the President’s point, elections have consequences and John Boehner knows that. I think they are going to make another go at it, and the question is what Republicans can do to support John Boehner to move forward, knowing there was a bit of a mandate in this election, while still holding onto as much of our principles as we can at the negotiating table. I think that’s going to be some really interesting conversations we have around that topic this week.
Stephen Sabludowsky: Very interesting point, you think that John Boehner would be able to control his own party in this issue? That’s the difficulty that he had as well as difficulty that Obama had last time with this particular issue was debated.
Margaret Hoover: He did have a challenge from the right plank in the party. It was a really different coalition then even though some of the same members are back. The difference is that they were freshmen, and now they’ve had to go back and get reelected. And they’re a little bit more mature, they’re a little more seasoned, they know the institution of the House of Representatives a little bit better than they did when they were only in six months before, and I think John Boehner knows them better. Boehner did a remarkable job, the worst is past is terms of the Republican collation breaking apart. I have a high degree of confidence in Boehner to keep the coalition together.
Stephen Sabludowsky: Well let’s hope the Bipartisan Summit this week creates some ideas, and at least some type of activity that can generate some goodwill throughout the nation. I feel, at least from my own perch, it seems like we need it sooner rather than later, and more rather than less.
Margaret Hoover: I couldn’t agree with you more, and that’s why the Bipartisan Policy Summit and the organization is so invaluable. What you’re saying is what certainly the majority of Millennials feel, the largest generation in American history, and they want government to work. They feel like their politicians aren’t making it work, get them out and get other ones in because the job of the government is to work for the people. So I think BPC is a positive force in the mix and I look forward to being able to participate in those conversations this week.
Stephen Sabludowsky: We look forward to seeing you, thanks so much it was great seeing you.
Margaret Hoover: It was great to see you again too, thanks so much.
Attend the BiPartisan Policy Summit in New Orleans--See the wonderful panel of speakers
American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party by Margaret Hoover
Below: see video clips of Margaret Hoover Election night on CNN
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