Julian E. Zelizer: Which GOP Will Run Against Obama?





[Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter," published by Times Books, and editor of a book assessing former President George W. Bush's administration, published by Princeton University Press.]

...Now that President Obama has officially announced his re-election campaign, it's time to see how his opponents will position themselves. As the candidates start to emerge for 2012, it is becoming clear that the potential contenders are embracing several different traditions and approaches to Republican politics.

First there is big business Republicanism. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney best embodies the wing of the GOP that has championed the concerns of the business and financial community.

During the 1930s, NYU historian Kimberly Phillips Fein has shown, business leaders like the DuPont family mobilized to rail against FDR's regulatory initiatives. This faction of Republicans has usually challenged economic regulations and fought for tax reductions, though they have endorsed government subsidies that protect the corporate world....

Another Republican tradition has been called conservative populism. Some Republicans have tried to appeal to working and middle class voters who traditionally voted Democratic, while supporting economic policies that are at least on the surface more favorable to upper income Americans. These Republicans have argued that limited government, balanced budgets, and traditional social values will ultimately strengthen America's middle class much more than government benefits....

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, congresswoman Michele Bachman and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have staked their claims on these arguments. Pawlenty once said the GOP needs to become the party of "Sam's Club, not just the country club."...

Yet another strand of conservatism is establishment Republicanism. Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich best represent this tradition. In the 1960s and 1970s, Republicans could still claim to be something of an oppositional force in a Washington that was dominated by Democrats, but this has been a hard argument to make since Ronald Reagan became president....


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Walter D. Kamphoefner - 4/11/2011

Mini-Gov and the seven dwarfs (or is it eight--and I'm nor referring to girth). Take your pick.

Subscribe to our mailing list