Friday, December 07, 2012

A Republican Glasnost?

Many political pundits would have one believe that the Republican Party has gotten the message from the 2012 election results.  Here in Virginia, it is somewhat hard to believe as Ken Cuccinelli becomes the all but crowned GOP nominee for governor in the 2013 Virginia elections.  Cuccinelli embodies the worse aspects of the GOP's white supremacist, anti-woman, anti-gay and theocratic agenda as exhibited during the past year by candidates like Newt Gingrich, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdoch, Rick Santorum and others.  More frightening is the fact that Cuccinelli is worshiped by the base of the Virginia GOP.   David Brooks makes the contrary case in a column in the New York Times and looks at what he sees as trends toward a new GOP.  I think he is giving Republicans too much credit and fails to see just how insane and toxic the GOP's Christofascist/Tea Party base has become.  I see little to make me believe that the GOP leadership such as it is can stop the party's continued lurch to extremism - at least not until the Christofascist extremist are driven from the GOP.  Here are column highlights:

But the speech really began to sing toward the end. Rubio made an oblique rebuttal to some of the Republican gaffes during the campaign: “Some say that our problem is that the American people have changed. That too many people want things from government. But I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people just want what my parents had: a chance.”

“It all starts with our people,” Rubio continued. “In the kitchens of our hotels. In the landscaping crews that work in our neighborhoods. In the late-night janitorial shifts that clean our offices. There you will find the dreams America was built on. There you will find the promise of tomorrow. Their journey is our nation’s destiny. And if they can give their children what our parents gave us, the 21st-century America will be the single greatest nation that man has ever known.”

The Republican Party has a long way to go before it revives itself as a majority party. But that speech signifies a moment in that revival. And I would say the last month has marked a moment.
Over the past month, the Republican Party has changed far more than I expected. First, the people at the ideological extremes of the party have begun to self-ghettoize. The Tea Party movement attracted many people who are drawn to black and white certainties and lock-step unity. People like that have a tendency to migrate from mainstream politics, which is inevitably messy and impure, to ever more marginal oases of purity. 

Jim DeMint, for example, is leaving the Senate to go lead the Heritage Foundation. He is leaving the center of the action, where immigration, tax and other reforms will be crafted, for a political advocacy organization known more for ideological purity and fund-raising prowess than for creativity, curiosity or intellectual innovation. 

Second, politics is being reborn. For a time, Republican candidates like Richard Mourdock of Indiana proudly declared that they didn’t believe in compromise. Political activists spent more time purging deviationists than in trying to attract new converts. 

But that mania has passed. There are increasing signs that House Republicans are willing to unite behind Speaker John Boehner so he can cut a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” There has been an epidemic of open-mindedness as Republicans try to win minority votes and create a version of their party that can be competitive in states like Connecticut and California. 

The Republicans may still blow it. If President Obama is flexible and they don’t meet him partway, Republicans would contribute to a recession that would discredit them for a decade. But they are moving in the right direction and moving fast. These are first steps, and encouraging ones.  

Again, I believe that Brooks is mistaken and that no real change will occur readily in the GOP.  Indeed, if he wants to see the real GOP, perhaps he should attend the Virginia GOP's convention that will crown Cuccinelli as the party's 2013 nominee for governor.  Barry Goldwater had it right.  The GOP allowed the Christofascists to get control of much of the party and it will be difficult, if not impossible to rid the party of that infestation.

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