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Referendum on the GOP

Republican vs RepublicanThe importance of the November election goes far beyond whether Romney or Obama will lead the nation for the next four years. And the outcome has greater ramifications than which of the two major parties will control Congress. It will be a referendum on the Republican Party itself — how it is constituted, what its stated goals and values are and will be, who will lead it — and possibly whether it will survive at all.

That’s not the conclusion of this independent voter, nor of any partisan Democrat. That’s what Republicans themselves are saying:

Even Bob Dole, known as the conservative Hatchet Man in his day, is warning that his party could curdle if it doesn’t start appealing to ethnic minorities, young people and the “mainstream,” and stand up to the far-right lunacy. The G.O.P. has veered so far right that Jack Kemp, Dole’s running mate in 1996, now looks like Teddy Kennedy compared with Kemp’s protégé Paul Ryan.

“We have got to be open,” the 89-year-old Dole told The Daily Telegraph of London. “We cannot be a single-issue party or a single-philosophy party.” He added that he was concerned about the “undercurrent of rigid conservatism where you don’t dare not toe the line.”

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Added Mike Garner, a 27-year-old hawking “Reagan was right” buttons at the meeting: “If Romney loses this election, the party really needs to do some soul-searching.”

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Bryan Fischer, an official with the American Family Association, went even further, accusing Romney’s campaign of putting “a bag over Paul Ryan’s head.”

Like others here, he warned that if Romney loses, the Republican Party is certain to undergo a tough period. “Soul-searching,” “self-reflection” and “tumult” were the words others used.

“If the Republican Party loses this election, conservatives will have had it,” Fischer said. “They will be done, finished.”

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Stephen Colbert: What happens to the party if Romney loses?

Jon Huntsman: “The party goes into the wilderness for a while to figure out what it is they are and what they stand for going forward.”

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“If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down, start new, with new people. Because this is a gimme election, or at least it should be,” [Laura] Ingraham said on her radio program yesterday.

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“If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: The Republican Party.” — Rush Limbaugh

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“I think that this Republican party will have to completely, utterly and totally revamp its thinking, its strategy, what it stands for, how it trains, what it speaks about, how it recruits and the total abandonment – actually the professionalization of the party – and the abandonment of the grassroots.” — Rick Tyler, former advisor to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign and current advisor to Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin

While some of this gloom and doom may be simply an effort to motivate Republican voters (not that anything in politics is ever simple), it’s clear that your vote in November is important. You can vote for Obama or for Romney, or if those options don’t appeal, you can vote to marginalize the current ultraconservative, obstructionist Republican Party. Perhaps, with the restoration of some pragmatism and bipartisanship in Congress, we can get this country moving again.

20 Comments »

  1. Romney’s latest pronouncements do seem to reflect a growing anxiety on the part of the extremist-controlled GOP. It is no longer a mere political contest, it is a religious culture war to them.

    You’ve done a good job of evidence-collecting here, PT.

  2. The Republican party does need to do some soul-searching. I think the same can be said of the Democratic party, though. While the Democrats are closer to the middle ground, they still have issues, and I think there is certainly room for them to move closer to the middle. The Republicans are so far from the middle, that they have become completely out of touch with reality. With only these two parties to work with, and with the Republicans completely unwilling to compromise, the US government is essentially locked in a dysfunctional state. Politicians are too worried about keeping their jobs, and not worried enough about fixing the government. At the same time, we’re given only two choices – not good and completely screwed up. What kind of a government offers these two choices to their people?

    We can’t raise taxes a little and cut spending a little. We have a choice to cut spending and screw a lot of people over (oddly most of these people appear to be Republican – and are voting to be screwed). Or we can vote to avoid cutting spending as much as possible and not raise taxes at all (apparently, since the Democrats appear too freaked out to even suggest it). It all comes down to money-in and money-out. Everyone else in the country (who isn’t an idiot or desperate) can balance their checkbooks. Why can’t the government? Why is borrowing more money from China always the selected option?

    Meanwhile, economists, who know the score, are shitting Nike swooshes over the whole thing, and trying to get some press. Yes, there are solutions. No, they don’t involve letting one party have their way. The two must work together. Now how likely is that?

    • With all due respect, Dood, I can’t help but cringe when I see the national economy correlated to family budgeting, as in:

      Everyone else in the country (who isn’t an idiot or desperate) can balance their checkbooks. Why can’t the government? Why is borrowing more money from China always the selected option?

      What you are discussing is the same as the quarrel between Hayek and Keynes. Those European countries who embrace “austerity” are following Hayek and the Obama administration is trying to follow Keynes. And as far as China is concerned, you might consider that our indebtedness to them has a side benefit: they have a vested interest in our fiscal success to protect their investment.

      • I understand the side-benefit of tying them to us, and how that prevents a financial war between the two countries – a sort of economic mutually assured destruction policy. The Chinese see this too. But I look at their massive investment in infrastructure, and I look at their inroads into other countries, not just the US. Will they reach a point where the balance tips and they know they can survive an economic war? That’s a bit of a concern. MAD only works when both sides know they can wipe each other out. We aren’t there yet, no. Right now, if they pushed that button, India would likely be the winner. But if we continue to borrow from the Chinese and continue to spend more than we bring in, will we eventually reach the point where they think they will benefit from pulling the plug? And if we get there, what would prompt them to push that button?

        But I do agree with you. It’s not a simple as balancing a checkbook. That’s an analogy. It’s far more complicated than that. I know. And I realize we can’t just cut. It has to be a balance, and it’s a balance we can’t make right away. But we can start. Or we could, if the government were functioning. And we need to move in that direction.

        • Absolutely, we agree completely that we need a balance of both economy and equitable tax revenue. And it sure doesn’t help that a portion of the populace is sitting on piles of money protected by Grover Norquist pledges.

        • Norquist is a good example of what’s wrong with our government — too much money buying too much influence with too many people. The Citizens United decision played right into that, too. Our government no longer belongs to We the People. It belongs to We the Wealthy. I despair of finding a way to retake control.

    • I agree the parties need to meet in the middle and hammer out some compromises. Clearly we must both cut spending/waste/fraud and raise taxes. And more and more I’m thinking term limits are the only cure for the intransigence we’re seeing, although I can’t for the life of me see how we get legislators to pass term limits on themselves.

      I’m in over my head when it comes to international finance, but I feel we’re in perilous waters with China. They are huge and growing rapidly, and if they decide to take us down, I don’t think they’d hesitate to sacrifice their populace in ways our government would never consider.

  3. Although certainly not a prominent guru such as those you quote, I am a former conservative Republican. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush (and Carl Rove) cured that. The GOP I once knew was conservative fiscally, but championed civil rights and other socially responsible positions. What a complete switch we have witnessed. Now the GOP is a haven for bigots and irresponsible spenders (chiefly for much more military hardware than any nation needs) and the Democrats carry the torch for social equity and were the last party to lead the way to balanced federal budgets.

    I agree with those you quote who say if President Obama wins reelection, the Republican Party is a goner without major surgery.

    • It’s certainly not my father’s GOP, that’s for sure. And not the one I grew up with and spent so many contented years with. I’m not sure when the party positions started getting turned around, but Bush was the breaking point for me. That was after years of watching the GOP get more and more intrusive on the issue of abortion and choice. It will be interesting to see what happens to the party if Romney loses.

    • Gabby,

      When I was a Republican the party seemed to stand for libertarian principles (small “L”), but I believe that even then I was deceived. The GOP is the party of the haves and they care about the have-nots only to the extent that it serves their ends. Welcome to the big tent.

  4. It is ironic how parties morph and change.
    Might be better to start over and create a new one.
    Because of the long campaign period and the amount of money needed to run – and the influence of large multi-national corporations and special interest groups, only the wealthy and well connected insiders have any chance of winning: two big parties that the average person can impact very little.
    The reality is that both parties “care” about people and welcome all as long as a person marches in step and believes EXACTLY as the party does do about ALL the issues – otherwise you are a horrible person.
    Both parties will say anything to get elected.
    WIsh campaign were limited to only 4 weeks, with 2-3 real debates, a written statement by each candidate on-line, and limited number of network/media equal time appearances (including entertainment venues). If they can’t get the message out in 4 weeks, the message isn’t clear. And a set budget limit with it all posted on line – with donors.
    Tired of the name calling and pettiness. Reminds me of high school.

    • I agree the campaign “season” (more like 18 months) runs much too long, with way too much time and money being devoted to it, to the detriment of just about everything else. No business gets conducted; everyone is too busy worrying about getting reelected. Limit the length of the campaigning, have it publicly funded so the wealthy don’t have an advantage and everyone is on an even footing, and put in term limits. Right. Like our lawmakers are going to put these restrictions on themselves!

        • You mean the insurance plans, pensions, and medical care that our tax dollars provide for them? In addition to paying their salaries? In addition to paying for our own insurance plans, pensions, and medical care? Seriously, let’s just give them veterans’ benefits. After all, they are “serving their country” (supposedly) too. But nooooo, they get special plans just for them — on top of being allowed to give themselves pay raises!

          Man, it’s Monday morning and I’m in a baaaad mood. Sorry ’bout that.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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