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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Republican Party is Out of Control"


This is a post of Chefjef's that got lost in the Great Purge. I will fisk it later. For now, suffice to say that the sentiment the title expresses seems to me to be something from Bizarro World -- Monk


It has long been established that the "Rockefeller Republican" has gone the way of the spotted owl in terms of its influence within the GOP.

There remains token representation from a band of northeast "liberal" Republicans, who represent states carried by John Kerry in the last election. The title of a recent book by former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, adequately describes the existing tension: "It's My Party Too."

But the latest version of Republican conservatism has also displaced notable right-wing luminaries such as Jack Kemp, William F. Buckley, George Will and Barry Goldwater.

The hallowed name of Ronald Reagan is used within contemporary Republican circles the way many fundamentalist Christians invoke the name of Jesus, something suitable for framing but bears little resemblance to the original orthodoxy.

I used to believe – back when I was a Young Republican in undergraduate school - that Republican conservatism was a philosophy that emphasized the individual, the free market and less government. That was the platform of Goldwater, the 1964 presidential nominee and author of "The Conscience of a Conservative." Such beliefs inspired a generation of conservative activists, including President Reagan.

Didn't conservatives believe that the U.S. Constitution set up a government of strictly limited powers? Wasn't the government supposed to protect us from foreign threats and deliver the mail, leaving other matters to the states or to the private sector?

Personally, I have found the Goldwateresque conservatism lacking when it came to moral questions. It allowed for Jim Crow segregation to fall through the cracks between justice and equality. It was indeed such thinking that led to Goldwater voting against the civil rights legislation of the 1960s; but through the process of evolution and self-reflection, Goldwater himself eventually understood the shortcomings of such positions.

This nouveau brand of conservatism, however, is less philosophical and more dogmatic. By advocating a one-size-fits-all private morality, it seeks not to replicate the shortcomings of the Goldwater variety. It embraces a more myopic approach that unabashedly believes that "right" is their sole possession.

However, the arrogance recently demonstrated during the emotional Terri Schiavo case raises serious questions about whether the brand of conservatism currently practiced on Capitol Hill and supported by the president is in line with mainstream America. Even Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio noted that every credible national survey found that 60 to 80 percent of Americans opposed Congress' Palm Sunday intervention in the Schiavo matter.

In writing about the Schiavo case, how could a leading conservative such as Bill Bennett suggest that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush break the law and willfully go to jail and risk impeachment to protect Schiavo's rights? Bennett considered such actions in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr.'s civil disobedience, which he states "answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion. In so doing, King showed respect for the man-made law by willingly going to jail." Oh PALEEZE.

Such actions prompted former GOP Sen. John C. Danforth to write in a New York Times op-ed article, "Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians." The private face of nouveau conservatism is egregiously beholden to big business -- as the passing of the credit card industry-supported bankruptcy legislation restricting the ability of individuals to file bankruptcy, while easing the ability of corporations to claim bankruptcy, as well as Congress recently making it illegal for Automobile manufacturers to forcibly place arbitration clauses into adhesion contracts with auto dealers while at the same time maintaining the absolute right of auto dealers to forcibly place arbitration clauses in their adhesion contracts with consumers, while also denying a minimum wage increase, will attest. (see more on this issue in the next article).

Whether it is the ethical violations of House Majority Leader Tom Delay or the words of Texas Sen. John Cronyn, who rationalizes violence against judges, or members of Congress who suggest the ruling of activist judges killed Schiavo, the Republican Party is a political party that is completely out of control.


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