Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Slow, Agonizing Death of the Republican Party

From The Agonist

Everyone says the transformation of Senator Arlen Specter from a Republican to a Democrat represents the frustration of a political moderate in an arch-conservative party. This misses the point, because there is nothing moderate about Arlen Specter’s political beliefs. Like Joe Lieberman, he has reserved for himself the right to vote his conscience, which means he will hardly be a staunch Democrat in favor of workers rights against corporate interests, or even in favor of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. What Arlen Specter does have, along with Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and a few other Republicans, is a last little shred of sanity and rationality. These people are not at home in a party that is suffering from mass delusions.
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Absolutely true. I was stunned to see Specter cross the aisle. Kind of like when crazy uncle Frank quits kicking the dog and begins petting the cat. Fear.
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We also hear that the Republican Party is shrinking into a Southern redoubt as a marginalized, regional party. This is true, but something much more interesting is going on here. We are watching a major national political party disappear from the American scene. The Republicans are in their Cheshire Cat phase – all that is left to see are the inane grins of politicians who have lost all connection to the real world. They wear the rictus of a doomed and dying political force that is paying the price for decades of hypocrisy and deceit. They have peddled the elixir of deception for so long that they have begun to drink heavily from their own product, and now it is too late. There are barely any Republican politicians on the national scene who are not irrevocablydisconnected from reality.
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The critical question, therefore, is not how will the Republican Party make a comeback, but what will take its place. What will happen with the 20% of Americans who are living in a fantasy world where the rest of America are their mortal enemies out to deprive them of their livelihood, their homes, and their safety? What will happen with the corporations who still wield immense power but haven’t the Republicans around to do their bidding? What will happen with the religious extremists who expect the Republicans to save this country from moral decay?

These are forces for potential disruption and even danger to America. They need to be brought back into the body politic, given a voice, but like everyone else they should be expected to operate in the real world where compromises are required and where we all can agree on what is up and what is down. Under the best of circumstances, this new political party will offer ideas and policies that counterbalance those of the Democrats, and at some point its candidates will be rewarded national office once voters can trust in their competence and sanity. This new political party might be called Republican, though the odds from a marketing standpoint are against that, but every American will be able to sigh with relief that is completely unlike today’s Republican Party in every way possible.

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Go read the whole article - superb.

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