When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Free Thinker, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?
    Some of my Republican friends ask if I’ve gone crazy. I say: Look in the mirror.
    By David FrumPublished Nov 20, 2011

    When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions�crime, inflation, the Cold War�right. This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong.

    It was not so long ago that Texas governor Bush denounced attempts to cut the earned-income tax credit as �balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.� By 2011, Republican commentators were noisily complaining that the poorer half of society are �lucky duckies� because the EITC offsets their federal tax obligations�or because the recession had left them with such meager incomes that they had no tax to pay in the first place. In 2000, candidate Bush routinely invoked �churches, synagogues, and mosques.� By 2010, prominent Republicans were denouncing the construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan as an outrageous insult. In 2003, President Bush and a Republican majority in Congress enacted a new �prescription-drug program in Medicare. By 2011, all but four Republicans in the House and five in the Senate were voting to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from everybody under age 55. Today, the Fed’s pushing down interest rates in hopes of igniting economic growth is close to treason, according to Governor Rick Perry, coyly seconded by TheWall Street Journal. In 2000, the same policy qualified Alan Greenspan as the �greatest central banker in the history of the world,� according to Perry’s mentor, Senator Phil Gramm. Today, health reform that combines regulation of private insurance, individual mandates, and subsidies for those who need them is considered unconstitutional and an open invitation to �death panels.� A dozen years ago, a very similar reform was the Senate Republican alternative to Hillarycare. Today, stimulative fiscal policy that includes tax cuts for almost every American is �socialism.� In 2001, stimulative fiscal policy that included tax cuts for rather fewer Americans was an economic�-recovery program.

    I can’t shrug off this flight from reality and responsibility as somebody else’s problem. I belonged to this movement; I helped to make the mess. People may very well say: Hey, wait a minute, didn’t you work in the George W. Bush administration that disappointed so many people in so many ways? What qualifies you to dispense advice to anybody else?

    But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama�whatever his policy �errors�is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action �phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) �the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.�

    This is, unfortunately, not merely a concern for Republican voters. The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society. The American system of government can’t work if the two sides wage all-out war upon each other:
    The party with a stronger charge on its zapper right now, the party struggling with more self-�imposed obstacles to responsible governance, the party most in need of a course correction, is the Republican Party. Changing that party will be the fight of a political lifetime. But a great political party is worth fighting for.
  2. Lucrum


    That's perfectly understandable.
  3. kut2k2


  4. Lucrum


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