The Sioux City Journal reports:
A day after the Democratic sweep of the midterm elections, Woodbury County Republican Chairman Steve Salem had harsh words for his own party, lambasting the influence of the conservative Christian right wing.
Salem said he coined a new phase: "You've heard of IslamaFascists -- I think we now have Christian fascists. What is the definition of a fascist? Not only do they want to beat you, but they want to destroy you in the process."
Salem said "if things keep going the way things are going locally and statewide, it is going to be more and more difficult for Republicans to recruit candidates. We have elements of the party who are moral absolutists, who take the approach that if you don't take my position every step of the way, not only will I not support you, but I will destroy you"....
Continued Salem, "We have a number of factions within the Republican Party who are putting their own personal agenda ahead of what is best for the party"....
With voter turnout at 28,000 rather than the 32,000 predicted by county auditor Pat Gill, Salem said the 4,000 shortfall "to a large extent, was Republicans who stayed home" out of disaffection....
Salem said he's going public with his views in order to ultimately help the party.
Said Salem, "I think that the Republican Party needs to do a huge self-analysis and determine if we are going to learn from our mistakes or if we are going to repeat the same mistakes, which, if we do, we are going to continue to lose elections. ... Personally, I don't know how we could have done much worse in this election cycle. That should be a wake-up call to this party."
For more on the inner-party struggle that's struck Sioux City and Woodbury County Republicans, check out this post from the Sioux City Journal's blog, wherein a fellow Republican actually declares Salem's harsh criticism "overly polite."
Western Iowa is generally considered a closer fit politically with Nebraska than it is with the rest of the state. The fact that the Republican Party has reached such a crisis point just east of the Missouri River suggests these same fractures and divisions could very easily develop between Nebraska Republicans if their own leaders continue pandering to the farthest reaches of the right-wing.
Of course, Iowa is not Nebraska, but the truth knows no bounds. Voters are waking. Republicans will either heed their warnings and choose a new course or face the consequences in 2008.