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08.10.09

My Message for Michelle Malkin

The Daily Beast's Meghan McCain on why the far-right pundit, who says McCain needs to shut up, won’t be getting her wish—and why telling moderates to get out of the party is bad for the GOP.

Michelle Malkin, the conservative pundit and author of the recent book Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies, was asked during a live chat on Politico’s The Arena on Friday which conservative political figure or commentator needs to shut up. Guess who her answer was? Yeah, that’s right—yours truly.

If people like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter think they can bully me into giving up this fight and what I am doing, they are going to be severely disappointed.

So Michelle Malkin successfully rounds out the trifecta of extreme female conservative pundits, following Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter, who believe that I, and Republicans like me, need to shut up and get out of the party. Is this surprising? Not really, given my father’s complicated history with the extreme right of the GOP. But what confuses me is this: Malkin recently posted an item on her blog about how “drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.”

What do Malkin and the other conservative pundits hope to accomplish by arguing that people “like me” have no place within the Republican Party? And who exactly are people “like me”? Young people? Moderate people? Young female people? People with tattoos who go to biker rallies?

The Republican Party should be a place for all kinds of people, and I hope my fellow moderates come to see that the party is the place for them, too. With every day of the Obama administration, I am more convinced that my political party is the one with the better ideals. The recent Cash for Clunkers mess is a classic example of an issue that that Michelle and I agree on.

However, I am consistently asked why I would want to stay in a party that has members so angry about my involvement. It’s as simple as this: I idealistically believe in the Republican Party, and I also have an emotional connection to it. But if the party continues to demand that people leave, I guarantee you that they will. If you tell people there is no place for them, they aren’t going to fight for their right to stay. They are going to rush into the open arms of the other team.

I don’t know exactly what about me threatens them so much, other than that people are listening to me. Malkin has the No. 1 book on The New York Times bestseller hardcover nonfiction list, but I have nearly twice as many Twitter followers as she does. And trust me, Twitter is more of an indication of where young people are than books published by the hyper-conservative publisher Regnery—which will be bringing you Carrie Prejean’s new book and published one of Ann Coulter’s.

There is a place for the far right in this party, Malkin included, and I respect their right to be heard. But the Republican Party will continue to lose elections unless we start reaching out in a more effective way to people my age and to moderates. Barack Obama won the last election on the slogan “Yes We Can,” and there is no reason why Republicans can’t go forth and win elections with equally positive messages. We will not get anywhere by continuing to sell hate and fear. Of course, there is always going to be a fraction of the GOP that is going to respond to that, but at some point we have to start facing the reality that hate and fear will only get us so far. Those emotions are not sources for inspiration of joining anything, let alone supporting a political party.

The old conservatives of the past need to start accepting that this is a new era and I am a part of a new generation. I am as sick of the infighting as everyone else, but I would like to point out that I am not the one starting this fight or demanding that the other half of the party leave.

It’s true that Democrats make being a member appealing in a much different way than the Republican Party does. The Democrats seem to have mastered inclusiveness—whereas Republicans, like a country club, seem to require a litmus test. But if people like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter think they can bully me into giving up this fight and what I am doing, they are going to be severely disappointed. And I can assure them that unless they start being realistic about the cultural and generational differences between the two sides of the party, there will not be a new generation of Republicans.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com.