Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Myth of the Republican Moderate

Criminalize Conservatism has been piling evidence upon evidence for over a year showing that Conservatism is a radical, criminal, viewpoint that has no place in a democracy, and Jonathan Weiler, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Global Studies, UNC Chapel Hill, has a piece in, "The Myth of the Republican Moderate," that is yet another voice that backs up our basic premise, although we maintain that this isn't a new phenomenon, it's just Conservatives being honest with the voters for once:

"Can we please stop talking as if the phrase "Republican moderate" has any basis in political reality?

"This week, North Carolina's Republican governor Pat McCrory signed into law a voter suppression bill that the election law expert Rick Hasen says has no parallel in the United States, dating to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This brings to a close an extraordinary and well-chronicled legislative session in Raleigh. A state long known as a bastion of relative moderation, particularly relative to the South (I did say 'relative'), is now in the thrall of extremists. They've attacked abortion access, thrown an all-purpose roadblock in the path of voting for groups they don't like, shifted dramatically the tax burden in the state to the favored few at the expense of the many, substantially cut education spending when it's already very low by national standards, rejected Medicaid expansion, thus denying perhaps half a million North Carolinians health coverage and much more. And Pat McCrory, who has likened himself to an 'Eisenhower Republican,' has been a cheerleader for the right wing onslaught every step of the way.

"Nationally, of course, the GOP has become a party of radicals, proudly wearing on its sleeve its contempt for the less well off and its ignorance of basic scientific and mathematical reality. Its primary approach to 'governing' at this point is to try to keep government from functioning at all, except when it comes to protecting the interests of the wealthy. It can't pass its own budgets, because they make no sense whatsoever. It's seemingly a badge of honor within the party to utter idiotic statements about women's reproductive systems in defense of retrograde attitudes toward women's health. Its most passionate cause now is to try to undermine passage of a bill that would extend health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. This week, the far left wing socialist Newt Gingrich said about today's GOP:
"'We are caught up right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we are negative and as long as we are vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don't have to learn anything.'
"In this context, no one should ever have taken seriously the notion that McCrory would govern as a 'moderate,' whatever his record as mayor of Charlotte 15 years ago might have suggested. To a substantial degree, the idea gained traction because political media in general still cling to the preposterous belief that the parties are equidistant from some notional 'center' in American political life. But that premise -- symmetrical polarization -- is simply and flatly wrong.

"McCrory is illustrative in this regard. When he ran for office last year, he promised to end the estate tax and cut corporate taxes, two ideas for which there is no evidence of a larger economic benefit, but which certainly make rich people richer. He more or less promised to slash unemployment benefits, even if that meant losing significant federal dollars in the process, and despite chronically very high unemployment in the state. He took the ridiculous but now obligatory-for-Republicans pledge not to accept any tax increases in any circumstances whatsoever. He has been an unabashed opponent of public sector unions and expressed all of the requisite hostility to organized labor that is now a given in the GOP. He promised to support voter ID, despite there being no credible evidence at all that North Carolina elections suffer from voter fraud. And so on. McCrory -- a man of seemingly no principle -- was already positioning himself as a tea party sympathizer during the campaign, even if he avoided the rabble-rousing demeanor often associated with the tea party.

"There is really only one significant issue about which McCrory tried to pretend he was something other than a right-wing conservative: abortion. At a televised debate during last fall's campaign, when McCrory was asked what further restrictions on abortion he would support, he answered flatly 'none.' That admission provided all the opening many folks still need to tell themselves that one party in American political life hasn't simply driven off a cliff. Last month, in a move that should have surprised no one, McCrory signed the notorious bill that affixed significant restrictions on abortion access to a motorcycle safety bill, blatantly breaking his abortion promise while denying, naturally, that he had done so.

"The dynamics of GOP politics are clear -- the biggest threat to state legislators, generally drawn as they are into solidly red districts, is from yet more right-wing politicians. There is almost no incentive to run toward the center and every reason to push farther to the right. That dynamic helps to explain the ever-intensifying feeding frenzy during the now-concluded legislative session in Raleigh. The just-signed voter suppression bill is a good example. While voter ID laws have become de rigueur among Republicans nationally, North Carolina Republicans threw the kitchen sink into their voting bill. Elimination of paid voter registration drives -- check. Elimination of pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds -- check. Elimination of public financing of judicial elections -- check. Weakening of campaign finance disclosure laws - check. Elimination of same day registration -- check. Reduction of early voting -- check. As Scott Lemieux points out, that last provision is the ultimate tell:
"'Ending early voting, in particular, gives away the show. There can't even be a pretense that there's a greater likelihood of fraud when you vote on Sunday rather than Tuesday. But there's certainly good reason to end early voting if you'd prefer that fewer African-Americans cast votes.'
"McCrory's political incentives are, in important respects, different from those of North Carolina legislators. He faces a statewide electorate that is pretty evenly divided -- Obama won very narrowly in 2008 and lost a close vote in 2012 -- and his approval ratings have plunged in the past three months, now dipping below 40 percent. But he is also a weak-kneed politician and it would have taken far more character and integrity than McCrory possesses to resist the tide of extremism that is the contemporary Republican Party, both in North Carolina and nationally. Too many political pundits continue to tell themselves comforting tales about a now-mythical creature -- the Republican moderate. And even if, in his 'heart,' McCrory has misgivings about the awful laws he's signing, that has no relevance whatsoever for contemporary politics. The GOP is committed to an agenda of stoking cultural resentment, while doing all it can to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. That McCrory managed to utter something about protecting abortion rights during a debate should have been irrelevant in the face of these inescapable realities. It's long past time to stop pretending as if the year is 1973 and not 2013 when it comes to evaluating the likely behavior of Republican officeholders."


"The Left’s Gone Left But The Right’s Gone Nuts: Asymmetrical Polarization In Action," an article at by David Roberts, shows that there are many more right wingers in the GOP than there are liberals in the Democratic Party, and they reference Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, whose recent book, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism," proved the gridlock in Congress is caused solely by the Conservatives:

"Starting in the mid-’70s, Southern (read: conservative) Democrats started bailing and going Republican — thanks in no small part to Nixon’s 'southern strategy' — and the GOP started getting more and more conservative. It is now considerably more conservative than the Democratic Party is liberal.

"Anyway, so that’s the nerdy political-science version. Here’s how William Galston and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution describe the consequences:
"[T]hese developments have not produced two mirror-image political parties. We have, instead, asymmetrical polarization. Put simply: More than 70 percent of Republicans in the electorate identify themselves as conservative or very conservative, while only 40 percent of rank-and-file Democrats call themselves liberal or very liberal. It is far easier for congressional Republicans to forge and maintain a united front than it is for Democrats. George W. Bush pushed through his signature tax cuts and Iraq war authorization with substantial Democratic support, while unwavering Republican opposition nearly torpedoed Barack Obama’s health-reform legislation. When Democrats are in the majority, their greater ideological diversity combined with the unified opposition of Republicans induces the party to negotiate within its ranks, producing policies that not long ago would have attracted the support of a dozen Senate Republicans.'
"Here’s the way I’d put it: Today, the national Democratic Party contains everything from the center-right to the far-left. Economically its proposals tend to be center to center-right. Socially, its proposals tend to be center to center-left. The national Republican Party, by contrast, has now been almost entirely absorbed by the far right. It rejects the basic social consensus among post-war democracies and seeks to return to a pre-New Deal form of governance. It is hostile to social and economic equality. It remains committed to fossil fuels and sprawl and opposed to all sustainable alternatives. And it has built an epistemological cocoon around itself within which loopy misinformation spreads unchecked. It has, in short, gone loony.

Mann and Ornstein's oped in the Washington Post, "Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem," summarizes what happened:

"Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are '78 to 81' Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

"It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

"The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

"When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

"'Both sides do it' or 'There is plenty of blame to go around' are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

"It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

"The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.

"What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist."


When the loonies are put in charge of the asylum called the GOP, radical politics is its keynote and radicalism uses the honesty of its convictions to the detriment of cooperation and compromise.

Make no mistake about it; the aims of Conservatism remains the same, but now the GOP is showing us just how they would rule if their goal of capturing all three branches of government comes about, and the result is the GOP Gang War - with the potential of wiping out the GOP for good.

Historically, the political parties of the rich have fallen because of their excesses - after John Adams's defeat the wealthy decided that they had better keep mum about their belief that only the rich were fit to rule leading to the formation of the Democratic Republican party and later, Jackson's Democrats; Lincoln's party was today's Democratic Party; and the GOP almost became extinct after the public realized that they started and prolonged the Great Crash and subsequent Great Depression.

The ongoing GOP Civil War may be the last of the GOP...we can only hope that it isn't too late.


"When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it."

Anatole France. (French poet, journalist, and novelist who won the Nobel Prize for
Literature in recognition of his literary achievements. 1844 – 1924.)