Wednesday, February 20, 2013

RINOs Need to Take Back the Republican Party

With the Republican Party hopefully about to suffer a grievous self-inflicted wound, some of the few sane conservatives - admittedly a dying species - are beginning to much more frantically call for a retaking of the GOP from the Christofascists and Tea Party extremists who now control both the GOP's policies and much of its messaging.  In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker is urging a revolt by GOP moderates, a/k/a RINOS, and over at Politico Joe Scarborough is calling for the demise of the GOP echo chamber that has allowed the party to drift further and further from objective reality.  As a former Republican from a family of former Republicans, I would love to see the effort succeed, but I am not optimistic.  The Christofascists and Tea Party lunatics have taken over the grassroots of the GOP like a metastasizing cancer and many moderates may never return to the GOP until the extremists are expelled.   First highlights from the Washington Post:

RINO-hunting, the long-popular political sport that morphed in 2008 into a sort of hysteria-driven obsession, lately has become a suicide mission.

RINO, of course, refers to Republicans In Name Only and is the pejorative term used against those who fail to march in lockstep with the so-called conservative base. I used “so-called” because, though the hard-right faction of the party tends to be viewed as The Base, this isn’t necessarily so. My guess is there are now more RINOs than those who, though evangelical in their zeal, are poison to their party’s ability to win national elections.

Yet, as always, the base manages to control the message because it is vocal, loud and, most important, makes for “Good TeeVee.” Spittle sells.

There are now so many RINOs wandering the barren plains that, banded together, they might even form a critical mass. A base, if you will. If only they weren’t so attractively independent. The individualist nature of those most likely to be drawn to the Republican Party is such that they tend not to gather in groups. Ostracized by their own tribe, they feel alone in their exile.  Quite the opposite is true. Indeed, as the base seeks El Savior, isn’t it time for a RINO Rebellion? 

Why should RINOs hang their heads in shame and be relegated to the fringes of their party? The party is the fringe. Isn’t it time to reclaim the salt lick? RINOs need to be defiantly proud, aggressively centrist and unapologetically sane. 

There are a couple of obstacles to this obvious course. First, sane people are too busy Being Normal to organize. No, “normal” is not a relative term. We all know what normal is, and it doesn’t involve carrying gigantic photos of aborted fetuses to political conventions. For example.

Another related obstacle to RINOs organizing is that RINOs don’t much like organizations.  

Finally, they lack the necessary grandiosity to recognize how fabulous they are. Ever seen a RINO in one of those silly hats that screams: “I Belong! I Am A Member Of The Party!”? No. They tend to be discreet — strangers in a strange land, keeping a low profile and an eye cracked for signs of fellow travelers.

[W]hat has become glaringly clear is that RINOs need to stop being so normal and grant their better angels a sabbatical. Forget taking back the country. Start by taking back your party. Do it for your country.
Joe Scarborough echos a similar message at Politico.  Here are excerpts:

A “Morning Joe” discussion from Tuesday is sure to set off extremists within the Republican Party who remain more interested in defending the GOP’s losing ways than charting a new course to victory. After Chuck Todd concluded that Republicans are afraid to leave the safe confines of conservative media outlets, I explained that such a response was short-sighted. After all, it was the Conservative Entertainment Complex that led Republican thought leaders, grass-roots activists and even the presidential candidate himself into believing that a GOP victory was imminent on Election Day. The Romney team was so isolated deep inside this conservative media bubble that they continued to believe victory was theirs well into the evening.

That embarrassing political tale proved that conservatives had finally become what they had once mocked: an insular movement so lost in its own echo chamber that it rarely made contact with those who didn’t share their world view. 

Why is Rush Limbaugh batting one for six in presidential races? Why is Fox News one for five? Perhaps it is because two decades later, what many of us once considered to be an important balance to left-wing media bias have become the only outlets conservative politicians and thought leaders consider legitimate. That has proven to be a terrible calculation.

This assumption has now become so widespread on the right that any news analysis or media poll that runs counter to Republican interests is dismissed by the right as biased and irrelevant. This mindset took firm hold in 2012 so that the echo chamber syndrome that once made fools of left has now come back to undermine the right. Not only does this approach distort political reality by only reinforcing pre-existing worldviews, it also stifles intellectual debate inside the party.

Conservatives should celebrate the gains they have made in the media world over the past two decades. But their greatest challenge moving forward is to begin breaking down the walls they have built that keeps them locked inside a comfort zone that distorts political reality and cedes great advantages to Democratic candidates. What conservatives must do instead is dare to think different, apply eternal truths to current realities and then start spreading their gospel of conservatism to the swing voters who have rejected them in five of six presidential races.

Two decades of losing should be evidence enough that simply talking to ourselves is not a winning strategy if we ever want to run the country again.
Don't be surprised if Parker and Scarborough start receiving death threats from the "godly Christian" folks in the GOP base for speaking the truth.  There is no one more filled with hate and bigotry that these "godly" folks.

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