Conservative David Brooks laments what has been happening to the Republican Party. He quotes John Podhoretz of Commentary, "...as soon as Republicans start talking about what kind of regulations and programs government should promote, they get accused by colleagues of being Big Government conservatives."
And he gets to the root of the Republican resistance to modernization toward a more inclusive view.
Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking.
He is right, as far as he goes. Political parties have a long history of getting out of step with those they seek to represent. Successive loss of elections tends to provide a clarity of thought. This is not happening for the Republican party.
If he went a little deeper he might notice a political base whose members have wrapped themselves in a new type of cocoon. Internet and cable television now augment radio, giving conservatives their choice of input.
It goes beyond news. Hard core rightists build their own reality, completely separate from that experienced by the rest of us, separate, in fact, from that seen by less doctrinaire conservatives. The sources they choose are those that tell them they don't need to moderate or even consider other views. They only need to expel those less conservative than themselves, the RINOs. And so the GOP shrinks, then shrinks some more. With each expulsion of those less extreme, the base becomes more extreme.
The internet forms the basis for the prediction here that the Republican party is the victim of an irreversible sociological phenomenon. The GOP will not survive the process.
The analysis Brooks offers does not get to the technological basis for a Republican party traveling backward in time. He simply sees the hopelessness of it all. Where are thoughtful, which is to say reality based, conservatives to go?
Brooks suggests the formation of a new political home, a party rooted outside the deep south and the rural west, a party composed of those "who recoiled at President Obama’s second Inaugural Address because of its excessive faith in centralized power, but who don’t share the absolute antigovernment story of the current G.O.P."
A reaction separate from David Brooks is that of a group of Country Club Republicans, establishment types looking to further the financial interests of those in the Romney class of wealth. Their future is firmly rooted in the American financial system. They have no stake in the economic damage that is routinely risked, sometimes advocated, by the Republican base.
This is how the New York Times begins to report it:
The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.
The group calls itself the "Conservative Victory Project" and, as I read the report, want to take back the Republican Party from the know-nothing fringe that now defeats winnable candidates.
My thesis, seen here, is that the political party that was once identified with Abraham Lincoln, is now destined to become insignificant in national life. If I am wrong, I believe the GOP will most likely be rescued by the brute force of self-interested big-money. It is possible, but I do not see it as plausible.
The "third way" type of new GOP, the alternative advocated by David Brooks, may yet come. It is one of several possible developments. But I think that is premature.
It is cruel to bury anything that is still in the process of dying.
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The Republicans are indeed a dying party because they are more interested in politcal power than principle. Most of those remaining Republicans are unworthy of the name of the pary of Lincoln.
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