December 11th, 2008
07:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Powell: GOP 'polarization' backfired in election

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Powell says the GOP tried to use 'polarization for political advantage.'"](CNN) - The Republican party must stop "shouting at the world" and start listening to minority groups if it is to win elections in the 21st century, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria for Sunday's "GPS" program, President Bush's former secretary of state said his party's attempt "to use polarization for political advantage" backfired last month.

"I think the party has to take a hard look at itself," Powell said in the interview, which was taped Wednesday. "There is nothing wrong with being conservative. There is nothing wrong with having socially conservative views - I don't object to that. But if the party wants to have a future in this country, it has to face some realities. In another 20 years, the majority in this country will be the minority."

Powell, who crossed party lines and endorsed President-elect Barack Obama just weeks before the election, said the GOP must see what is in the "hearts and minds" of African-American, Hispanic and Asian voters "and not just try to influence them by... the principles and dogma."

"I think the party has to stop shouting at the world and at the country,"Powell said. "I think that the party has to take a hard look at itself, and I've talked to a number of leaders in recent weeks and they understand that." Powell, who says he still considers himself a Republican, said his party should also stop listening to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

"Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?" Powell asked. "Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?"

Zakaria's full interview with Powell will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Filed under: Colin Powell
soundoff (1,390 Responses)
  1. My President is Black

    All these jerks blasting Colin is exactly the reason the conservative party is going to seep in to extiction. Sure they'll be around babbling and crying to each other on rightwing radio, but elected office is going to be a thing of the past for them. Keep spreading the hate fools, you're only unifying the rest of us.

    December 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. M Lazaros

    The rise of Colin Powell is attributable to nothing but his color. He is a mediocre intellect. He was a mediocre general. A mediocre Secretatary of State and has never wholeheartedly supported the Republican Party whose team he claims to be on. He has always used weasel words to cover his rear end. He has done nothing extraordinary and of note. He is simply known for his great stature blah, blah, blah. What tangible thing has he done that has earned him this phoney stature bit? His support for Obama is opportunistic because blacks who oppose Democrat and black orthodoxy are reviled and ostracized. Powell wants in with the crop of Democrats who will run Washington the next few years and to hell with principle. What a phoney.

    December 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. JT from Missouri

    Reading some of these comments, I really have to say things that will make you people who have nothing better to do than to throw "spit wads" at each other be quiet. I am an Independent who looks on not only one side of the issues, but looks on both sides,left and right, because I want America to move forward. By some of these comments, I can tell we have a LONG way to go. To all of you people who have smears against people, have actual facts to back them up instead of just throwing it out there because of hate and ignorance. I also think that some of you people have short term memories by judging some of your comments. Remember, Obama said himself that there is no red states or blue states there is the United States of America. Accusing him of being any type of divider, is cynical and very stupid. So I would like to sum up that in one phrase: CUT THE CRAP AND GET OVER IT NOW!!!!

    December 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. Sally

    Colin Powell makes conservatism viable. I hope that his party listens to him–I am a liberal in what I believe, but I also know that balance is important, and if the Republicans keep being a force of division, Democrats will have way too much influence and power.

    December 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. D.J.-Texas

    Colin Powell seems to be one of the few Republicans who refuse to drink the "hate kool-aid" of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Coulter,....The politics of hatred, fear and division has been the only way the Republicans could keep their 51% control-Thank God America and the entire world is now aware of what's been going on for the years of Republican one party control of government. The picture is one of total incompetence and corruption! Thank you Colin for having the courage to stand up against the insanity!

    December 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  6. Mac-101

    Anonymous, Ya that's what we need eliminate any speach you do not like. That's what you open minded people do. Don't worry Hate Speach followed by Hate Thought will not be far off!

    December 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Well, it's nice to see the infuriated right-wing-nuts come out in force on this. Here's the reality: Obama and the Democratic Party won a landslide in 2008 partially due to fantastic candidates, and partially due to constant Republican incompetence/mismanagement of our entire government.

    If the Republican party would simply go back to the Goldwater days, even centrists could vote for them. But nooooo...we get more Duncan Hunter, his biggest fan Ann Coulter, and more of the same. The very same people who literally lied this nation into an unnecessary war were also responsible for the largest expansion of government in U.S. history. They have now become the party of "Big Government", and this is why everyone is calling for introspection.

    Thank God Barack Hussein Obama will take the oath of office on 1/20/09. May he lead us well.

    December 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Chugiak Observer

    General Powell is correct, but even if the Repubs took his advice it wouldn't work. Remember, this is the Party that thinks Sarah Palin is their future. Pathetic......not smart enough to lead.

    December 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. CBoyer

    Last time I checked it was a free country and we have the right to listen to anyone we choose. If you don't like him turn it off.

    December 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Will B Free

    Find the enemy and kill it! Overblown fake macho! He's never listened to Rush 10 minutes, and Rush is not the enemy!

    December 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. Mark in Arizona

    Steve wrote:
    Colin Powell is an idiot. Nobody listens to fools like him, Christopher Buckley, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, David Rodham Gergen, David Rodham Brooks, et al.

    I reply:
    Amazing, you named most of the Republicans that have actually grown a conscience and are capable of self-examination. If Republicans at large don't develop these skills, the GOP will either fade into obscurity or bring America to ruin. Oops, they already did choice 2.

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Eric Lintz

    Well said California Steamin.....LUZER..........LLLLLLLL

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. Dave in memphis

    Powell is a hack. He was a "hero" of the Gulf War? Nice hero, fighting from the Pentagon. Schwartzkoff was the hero, on the front line. The problems with minorities in this country is that they wake up every day, shower, shave and look in the mirror and see a "black" man or a "hispanic" man. Republicans see them as men. There is a huge difference. Because of this tribalism, they will never have economic prosperity until they start relying on individualism, entrepreneurship and self-reliance.

    These are just some of the principles the country was built on, and for good reason. They work. I love how the left, who haven't attended a church outside of Rev. Wright's, speak about certain verses in the bible. Do unto others – they know that one. But they don't remember "if a man will not work, he shall not eat".

    Atlas shrugged. If you don't know what that is, and most of the govt. educated folks here won't, look it up. Read it.

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  14. Peter (CA)

    I guess Powell is right...the right wingers here have proved his point.

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  15. Rani

    RUSH IS A BRILLIANT VOICE OF TRUTH!!! So Powell thinks that it is a "lesser instinct" to defend innocent human life and that it is a "better instinct" to MURDER THE UNBORN....Powell is pathetic.

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Claire, NH

    Well said General. You are the best.

    December 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Matt

    Yeah, if the Republicans could just cut out those deadwood moderate voters then they could go from McCain's 46% of the popular vote to Palin's 30%. Smart move California Steamin.

    December 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. alan gooch

    Yeah Hate filled Republicans! Here are some responses I've read:
    *A republican is liken unto the hitler youth of the 40's. I am glad I am independent of that title.
    *The Republican party has this anti minority view and in turn they are becoming the outcast of society.
    *It is rather what Sarah Palin did at her hate rallies too
    *A true conservative speaks. But the neo-morons will not listen to Mr. Powell
    *The country is changing and people like Rush Limbaugh and Shane "loud mouth" H do not understand or get it.
    *they ran a failed campaign on failed policies, using divisiveness and hatred
    *The GOP has been on track to alienating our children from the cultures of the world and building enemies in the process

    WOW! And that's only a few responses from this page. I somehow do not think that Republicans have the "hate" market cornered.

    From this Christian Republican, I pray Obama has a successful Presidency and pray that honest people can disagree politically in a respectful manner. God bless you all.

    December 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. Slumberjack

    As for this talk about the Republicans needing to become even more conservative than they already are, the sooner the better I say. The sooner they move themselves to the fringe of mainstream society, so that they become just a mere nusiance like the KKK and the skinheads, instead of a national political threat, the better it will be in America for all the people to move forward with the rest of the like minded nations of the world who long for peace, human dignity, and social justice and equality.

    December 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. susie

    The Democrats need to look at their own party, buying seats doesn't look good with the majority of the people.

    December 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. Big Jim-Mississippi

    Recently General Powell visited our Local college campus. My only question to Mr. Powell is "Who paid for your Security Detail? Treasury Department? Blackwater? What are you afraid of?" I was taken back by the black limos strategically parked in front of the student union. I guess security detail is the next new "bling." Should we be afraid here in Mississippi? What exactly does anyone want in Mississippi bad enough to terrorize for?

    December 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  22. Ohio Citizen

    The Republican party learned how to win elections by the use of politics of division. They learned from great political minds like Atwater that you could drive a wedge between people who may have had reasons like tax and labor policy to vote together.

    Race, sex, and violence (crime) worked.

    Obama won with the politics of addition. Linking people together with common concerns and common hopes. The appeal to the better part of our nature.

    The Republican party has people who are stuck on the divisiveness to such a degree that they have no vision of community. It is true that the demographics are irreversible. Voter suppression (politics of subtraction) will no longer work. Where do you go from here?

    December 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  23. Rush Lameduck

    Lets all go after Limbaugh and crush his radio program.

    December 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  24. hojo

    What a moron Powell is. He wore the uniform of this country and dedicated himself to preserving the constitution but now when it is "politically correct" he calls for the censorship of people that don't agree with him??? Hey General how about my right to listen to who ever I want to.

    December 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. TN Todd

    snappa..........Learn to spell

    December 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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