Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Republicans Adrift From Reality

A column in the Washington Post looks at an issue that I have looked at often - the current Republican Party's disconnect from objective reality and inability to accept that the country is changing and the the party base is losing its long enjoyed white Christian privilege.   The column also references a lengthy piece in New York Magazine that is worth a read as it describes a National Review post election cruise.  The column also looks at the bubble of racism and ignorance that so much of the party base now embraces.  It's a sad commentary on what was once a respectable political party.  Here are some column excerpts:

On Nov. 11, a mere five days after the presidential election, the cruise ship Nieuw Amsterdam pushed off from Fort Lauderdale for a Caribbean jaunt. Aboard were nearly 600 emotionally tattered Republicans, most of whom had been expecting a Republican victory of Rovian proportions — surely they had all read Karl’s prediction in the Wall Street Journal — and now were about to cruise 750 miles to nowhere, just like the party they so adored.

The difference between this cruise and others like it was the (paying) presence of Joe Hagan, a writer for New York magazine. To his considerable credit, Hagan abstained from shooting these particular fish in their barrel and instead portrayed them as dismayed and somewhat disoriented refugees from an America that used to be. Not only had they been unprepared for Mitt Romney’s loss, but it was dawning on them that their tribe — mostly affluent, elder whites — had lost the election as well as the demographic battle that had preceded it.

“Minorities came out like crazy,” Kevin Hassett, a former Romney economic adviser, told them. “White people didn’t get to the polls. There are far more African-Americans voting than they expected.” Imagine!  Who “they” might be is not exactly clear. But what is clear is that to the cruising Republicans, there is something weirdly topsy-turvy about minorities gaining the political clout once held in perpetual trust for the majority.

A menacing sense of foreboding permeates Hagan’s article. The passengers both fear and hate Barack Obama. To them, he is the nightmare president — allegedly alien in outlook, morality and economic approach. An economic cataclysm is imminent, and the nation has wandered into an icky swamp of immorality. “I’m afraid,” a passenger told Hagan. “Write that. We’re scared to death.”

I chortle not. I was once a National Review subscriber, although never a conservative. In its infancy and for years afterward, the magazine was bursting with ideas. The writing was often fresh and engaging

Now, though, it is conservatism that is both intellectually exhausted and nearly indefensible. It is the movement of the ideologically ossified, of gun zealots and homophobes, of the immigrant-phobic and the adamantly selfish. It insists that government must be small (an impossibility!), education must be local (a stupidity) and that debt, no matter what the reason, is immoral and reckless. The movement has lost its reliable monster. Godless communists have been replaced by the church ladies of Planned Parenthood.

[T]he emphasis was on yesterday. These passengers were people who had — and maybe still have — a sense of possession about America. It was once theirs. It once looked like them and acted like them and thought like them. No more. In more ways than one, they were out to sea.

I will confess that like the column's author, I too once subscribed to the National Review.  Not any more.  And the decline of that publication is reflective of what has happened to the Republican Party and its base who are now best defined by their racism bigotry, greed and selfishness.

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