Thursday, March 01, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: The Truest Heart of the Republican Party

Earlier this week, David Brooks wrote a challenging piece in the New York TImes titled The Possum Republicans. In the article, he chastises Republican leaders for failing to haul in the fringe of the party:

All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.

But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the unpleasantness would pass.

Frankly, I'm not sure there are such things as "Party Leaders" for the Republicans these days. Rather, it seems like the party is composed primarily of two major groups: The social conservatives, and the businessmen. Right now, Rick Santorum has the votes of the former, and Mitt Romney has the latter in his camp. Both groups, of course, claim that they want a restrained government, but neither really means it-- they rely on a growing, active government to achieve their goals. The social conservatives want government to actively restrict freedoms relating to abortion and homosexuality-- that is, they want the federal government to intervene to restrict the freedom of individuals. The businessmen, meanwhile, want government to promote business-- to pay farm subsidies and buy munitions and finance oil drilling through tax breaks. Neither group, once in office, has a track record of actually seeking to shrink the size of government, particularly in relation to individual liberties and overall spending.

Within the party, the hope for a principled and passionate position lies with a smaller third group, the libertarians, who seem to genuinely want smaller government and are willing to accept the price of that-- that a restrained federal government probably won't restrict abortion or obsess over gay marriage or finance agribusiness or maintain a gigantic army or favor one kind of energy over another. Libertarians would allow greater freedoms, and that includes the freedom to do things that may violate the morality of the social conservatives. They would also spend less money on everyone-- including business.

In that, I think Brooks is wrong. The libertarians are considered the fringe, but in fact they are the only ones left with a viable ideology consistent with the mantra of conservatism that government be restrained. It is not the party leaders, but this small fringe who are true believers in this principle, who can save the party (if it really is going to be a party of small government).

I should make clear that there is a lot I disagree with libertarians about-- primarily on issues like environmental regulation, which I believe in and they do not.
I don’t know about you, but the fact anyone gets any vote after having deemed college education as “brainwashing” and colleges as “indoctrination camps” is scary, not scary just because those voters couldn’t discern the appalling duplicity (given the comment came from someone holding not one but two graduate degrees) but scary because they embraced the idea of ignorance and mediocrity as an American value to be proud of and voted to validate. What next? Gulags (oh well, find something else to call it) for those Americans who know or want to know that Odessa is not just in Texas, that Aida is not just Elton John’s musical and Rembrandt not just toothpaste?!?
One doesn’t need a graduate degree, any degree, to have their intellect insulted and yet…
Libertarians are not in favor of individual liberty, except to take drugs. They would prefer we return to a time before the 14th Amendment, when states are their own nations and the federal government exists only for national defense.
Rembrandt is a toothpaste?
Yes, for whitening teeth!
REMBRANDT is a registered Trademark!
Might as well not be a registered trademark, judging by the questionable white teeth in its trademark namesake's paintings.
The "true heart" of the Republican Party still lies in Eisenhower Republicans like Grassey of Iowa and Snow of Maine (... and Snow just announced that she's leaving the Senate)! Here are two principled politicians who sometimes go against the lobbyists and Big Money and the radical fringe of their own party to vote what's best for the country at large. Why is that so hard?
Marta - you beat me to it. I just went to the Rembrandt exhibit in Raleigh and I don't recall a lot of white teeth.

I have to agree with Bob on the true heart.... I was saddened to hear Olympia Snowe is not running for re-election. The people who have recently bowed out of the next election cycle paint a very clear picture of where things are and were they perceive they are going. Further polarization between party's and within party's
David Brooks wrote mainly about the candidates leaving their principles at the door when they campaign for the republican base's votes. They are saying extreme things to get the fringes vote. They are presenting ideas that they know they can't use to govern. They are not lions; they are possums. The king of the group is Romney who has set world records for shifting his positions and principles. David Brooks left the king off his list of shame.Shame on David.

Libertarians and communists are definitely fringe but often genuinely principled theories. They believe in all government or no government in our lives. In their purist forms they sound good but no one is proposing that they would work for us.
Saying what voters want to hear and making empty promises is neither lions nor possums or any other animal, it's demagogy... The historically favorite epithet used by Republicans to describe Democrats. Go figure!
well said, bob.
David Brooks is my boyfriend. Step off.

By the way, he may not be aware that a broad-shouldered Protestant girl from the Midwest is his paramour... but I have loved him since the first time he introduced America to Todd Palin as "the tin can in the paper recycling." *swoon*
Carrissima,Curessa...The Chief ought to know about this "torch" you are carrying for David Brooks. I kinda like and respect the guy too...and hope the Republicans don't listen to him.
Razorites musing on education and Santorum,on Libertarians,Rembrandt,both as toothpaste and as painter and Libertarians all together makes for serious fun. People: I love the way your minds work!
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