Thomas B. Edsall Gives Voice to Rare Breed: GOP Defectors (June 5, 2014)


For years now, we’ve watched the Republican Party degrade from a once viable conservative response to liberal philosophy, into an apocalyptic crazy town where thinking and humanity go to die. I do not of course describe members of the dwindling class of genuine libertarians and old school conservatives who still believe the country should function if one side doesn’t get its way. But sadly there are fewer and fewer people like former Senator Bob Dole, who famously said last year of his party, “Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.”

More often we see the independent leaders of GOP past, such as Arizona Senator John McCain, completely selling out to the Tea Party, Palinizing us with ill-informed decisions. Contrast this tyrannical groupthink with Bob Dole, or former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who voted for President Obama and spoke out strongly against the strain of exclusiveness running through the right, on a January 2013 episode of Meet the Press. He said, “There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities…The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?”

A dearth of this kind of logical intramural evaluation is killing the party, morally, creatively and demographically. And though it will be gratifying to witness the eventual demise of this era’s autocratic Republican chokehold on the democratic process (or lack thereof), the journey is certainly no fun at all. And it’s hard not to wonder at times why more intelligent conservatives (I swear kids, there was a time when this wasn’t an oxymoron) don’t raise their voices and pens against the death march.

Moreover, why does mainstream reporting allow the GOP’s Jedi mindtrickey to go unchecked (“The deficit is our biggest threat.” “Poor people bring poverty on themselves.”)?

Every once in a while there’s a beacon of hope outside of the Comedy Central studios. And this week, the light comes courtesy of New York Times contributor and journalism legend, Thomas B. Edsall. Edsall addresses the deficiencies in both media accountability and dissenting Republican voice in a piece this week, entitled “The Republican Case Against Republican Economics.” In it, he writes:

“[T]he conservative coalition, already facing demographic challenges from the rise of minority voters, is likely to lose core white support if it maintains its dominant anti-government ideology.

Once fissures have appeared in the conservative belief system, it will become increasingly difficult to maintain hegemony – or, to mix metaphors, you cannot unscramble a scrambled egg.”

By way of proof, Edsall offers a litany of testimony from radical lefties such as James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, as well as three former speechwriters for President George W. Bush: Michael Gerson, Peter J. Wehner and David Frum. To Gerson and Wehner, he attributes the following description of modern Republican economic policy: “rhetorical zeal and indiscipline in which virtually every reference to government is negative, disparaging, and denigrating. It is justified by an apocalyptic narrative of American life: We are fast approaching a point of no return at which we stand to lose our basic liberties and our national character.”

The voices of GOP reason are out there and they’re not mincing words. When will those like them, who might also be palatable in a general election, decide to join the chorus? If and when they do, will it be too late for the party, and more importantly, our nation’s prospects of recovering middle class solvency?


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