Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reaganites vs. the GOP

It’s rare that I agree with someone who calls himself a Reaganite, but Bruce Bartlett has a very good take on the state of the GOP nowadays in a piece called Why I Am Anti-Republican.

I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday [August 24]?

I am not alone. When I talk to old timers from the Reagan years, many express the same concerns I have. But they all work for Republican-oriented think tanks like AEI and Hoover and don’t wish to be fired like I was from NCPA . Or they just don’t want to be bothered or lose friends. As a free agent I am able to say what they can’t or won’t say publicly.

I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership Council to push the party back to the center and it was very successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP.

There’s a part of me that chortles with maniacal glee when I see the once-mighty-and-bound-for-permanent-majority GOP circling the drain; it’s just desserts for their disastrous and vengeful leadership during their stint in the Congress after the 1994 elections which led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the election of George W. Bush. The GOP is being redefined by birthers, deathers, tenthers, and whatever lunacy that can be dreamed up on the internet and under the tin-foil hats. The hounding for the firing of Van Jones this weekend and the crowing by the right wing over his scalping prove Mark Kleinman’s point: “If you want to say batsh*t-crazy stuff and still be treated as a respectable participant in the national debate, you’d better be a Republican.” For a while I thought the solution was to do our best to make fun of them and hold them up to as much ridicule as possible, but now that we’re ass-deep to a tall Swede into insanity with people carrying loaded firearms within shouting distance of the President of the United States and demanding to see his “real” birth certificate, it’s not really all that hilarious. It’s getting to the point where even comic geniuses like Mel Brooks and the Marx Brothers would give up.

Not that it’s any of my business, but I really wonder who the Republicans think they can get to run in 2012; someone who can appeal to the base as well as the independents like Mr. Bartlett, and the old-style Republicans who dared label themselves as “moderate.” Perhaps the best thing the GOP can do in 2012 is run Sarah Palin, let her get shellacked by losing 49 states like Walter Mondale did in 1984, and then really have an epiphany to come to the center. But based on their past behavior and the lessons they didn’t learn after 2006 and 2008 (abetted by the spineless response of the Democrats), I doubt that will happen. If anything, they’ll go further over the edge and drive a lot of good people away…if they haven’t already.

HT to Andrew Sullivan.