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God Save The GOP
Posted By Savannah Cox On July 10, 2012 @ 1:00 PM In Politics,United States | 1 Comment
They were once the party of Lincoln. The party of equality, social progress and competing ideas. Today, though, the GOP is a party driven less by reason and more by stale, derisive rhetoric that will ultimately—and perhaps deservedly—swallow them whole. Which wouldn’t be so bad, save for the fact that in doing so they’ll most likely take with them the American middle class as we know it, the party’s rich legacy of benevolent innovation, the credibility of Congress and, well, you get the point.
But the truth is that it doesn’t really matter how many people say these things, especially if they come from outside the close-knit conservative cabal. In a party stricken with an intransigent ideology, the destructive pursuit of self-interest at any cost and the gravelly shrieks of Michele Bachmann, the opinions voiced from a major opposing party are not only irrelevant, they are fundamentally wrong and worthy of scorn. And as with a terrible hangover, sometimes the best cure is to seek aid from just that which made the floor spin to begin with. In other words, if the Republican Party is to be saved, they can do so only themselves and via leaders bold enough (or cowardly enough, pending your political persuasion) to call them out on the party’s dangerous ideological addiction.
Realizing the dark, fringe-filled future that awaits the increasingly prickly and polarized political party, some of the GOP’s remaining mainstream members have tried their hand at intervention. One of the first was Florida governor Jeb Bush, whose conservatism is as endemic to his person as his y-chromosome. In a June meeting with Bloomberg reporters, Bush was quick to criticize the hyper-partisanship of today’s GOP. Said Bush, even “Ronald Reagan would have…a hard time if you define the Republican party…as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground.”
While the governor also deemed Barack Obama’s “highly partisan” 2008 presidential campaign a key aggravator for what he believes to be a temporary, ultraconservative malaise, he also cited his father’s one-term presidency as a prelude to what some have come to recognize as the “Party of No“. And though H.W. struggled through several political hurdles that threatened his 1992 re-election, Jeb speculated that it was his dad’s bi-partisan approach to a balanced budget (one that involved tax increases, contemporary conservative cardinal sin number 1) that lost him much needed Republican support and ultimately sank his 8-year-long presidential ambitions.
Fast-forward a handful of weeks and enter the courtroom for another dissenting voice. This time, the conservative darling doling out the antidote is Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan-appointed federal judge. Like Jeb, Posner lionizes conservative figures like Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan, but given the past decade of the party’s “goofy” caricatures (which he supplements with GOP leaders’ hyperbolic responses to Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent ruling on Obamacare), Posner has “become less conservative.” Which, he suggests, is a natural response to ten years of deteriorating conservative thought.
Then there’s Jon Huntsman. With a refined pedigree consisting of international trade experience, bipartisanship, Independent Party appeal and a strong background in business and efficiency — he left his stint as Governor of Utah leading the nation in job growth, an approval rating of over 80% and the Pew title of best managed state in the country — Huntsman was, naturally, the last thing that today’s GOP wanted. And so, Huntsman’s honorable run as an old-school conservative was certainly Sisyphean; especially as one man’s reason is seldom enough to push a boulder of ideological idiocy up even the most gradual of hills.
This past week, Huntsman touched upon the futility of participating in such a heavy, unrelenting tangle of a party when he stated that he would not be attending the upcoming GOP convention in Tampa. On first glance, this might not seem like that big of a deal, but the fact of the matter is that former presidential candidates rarely opt out of party conventions—if at all. Maybe this is yet another manifestation of Huntsman’s alleged liberal leanings, or maybe he’s just being a principled Republican. Either way, today’s GOP wouldn’t have him in their circle.
Like Bush and Posner, Huntsman’s tail-between-the-legs evaluation of the modern Republican Party is laden with disappointment, remorse and frustration. But unlike Bush, Huntsman doesn’t think that this ideological stupor is a temporary embarrassment; rather, it is but a symptom of a long and ongoing disease. As such, not only will Huntsman fail to attend this year’s convention, but he will skip every convention in the future “until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future than the United States…based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits.”
Although Huntsman comes closest to calling today’s GOP for what it is—a blundering mass of divisive talking points under the guise of principle—it’s highly unlikely that anyone within the party will give credence to Huntsman’s bleak prognosis. After all, the man just joined the leftish Brookings Institution as a distinguished fellow. And in the clouded eyes of the modern Republican Party, that gives pariah Huntsman about as much authority as the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Affordable Healthcare Act is, well, constitutional.
While Huntsman, Bush and Posner’s reproofs of contemporary conservatism in the United States each paint rather dismal portraits of the modern GOP, it is lament—the overriding theme present in all three remarks—that is most troubling. After all, it was the Republican Party we can thank for some of the earliest waves of social reform, equality and inclusion. How regrettable it is that they have now chosen to shackle, isolate and confine themselves to such an unforgiving ideology.
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