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Friday, September 9, 2011

From one Republican to Another

A Plea From the GOP to the GOP

When I speak to friends and family about my concerns about the radicalization of the Republican Party I am often met with skepticism by moderate/centrist folk who imply that I am naïve about how the real nature of politics as practiced by everyone and outright hostility by conservatives who think that I am a partisan hack just trying to score points. While I admit to idealism, I do not think I am naïve and I have written about liberal political assaults in the past (part of the reason I supported Obama over Clinton in primary was lasting disgust over the Clinton’s own role in “the politics of personal destruction”). But it is partly that experience in politics that causes me to see genuine changes in political discourse—new lines being crossed, new tactics being deployed. So, for instance, I have written about how in the 1980s the Democratic Party and liberal interest groups injected something new and destructive into our politics when they “borked” Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And while I am now an Obama supporter, I have in the past supported Republicans, having twice voted for George W. Bush (one of the few Americans who liked his father less than him). My pro-life beliefs are strong and my revulsion at John Edwards’ character/demagoguery way before his sex scandal kept me voting for Bush even in 2004. I know many doubt it, but I am deep at heart a Lincoln Republican.

But if you do think that I am too naïve or biased, I have a new source for you to consider when thinking about whether or not the Republican Party of today is substantively different from politics of recent times. This man is neither naïve—he was a political operative for nearly thirty years and has scalding things to say about the Democratic Party—nor Democratic—he worked for the GOP for years and maintains serious reservations about Obama. So when Mike Lofgren writes about the uniqueness of the current Republican Party, he deserves a hearing. His article “Goobye to All That” is making waves and for good reason. The story of his decision to give up on the GOP deserves consideration from people of all political stripes. Here is a taste:

both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP…It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the "birther" issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal - "I take the president at his word" - while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny - albeit after release of the birth certificate.

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