Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thoughtful Essay asking HOW TO SAVE the GOP

Worthwhile reading it in its entirety at:

EXCERPTS:  Unlike Eisenhower’s GOP, today’s breed of Republican displays a willful know-nothing-ism, a determination to wallow in a swamp of anti-intellectualism and made-up facts. In my youth, the Republicans were considered the more reasonable ones.

These troubling Republican trends have gotten worse over several decades but only recently has this reality penetrated the consciousness of the Washington Establishment, finally prompting two committed centrists, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, to detect the reality.

Earlier this year, they penned a Washington Post Outlook article entitled “Let’s just say it: the Republicans are the problem”: “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

At the top, Republican leaders – from Ayn Rand ideologues to neoconservative warmongers – believe in elitist concepts like “perception management,” i.e. using lies and propaganda to manipulate the rank-and-file. Among the rank-and-file, there’s almost a pride in being manipulated.

So, despite all evidence, high percentages of Republicans believe that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Instead of anger over being misled, today’s adherents to GOP orthodoxy react to the truth by hugging the lies more tightly.

If this were the behavior of some fringe group on the Right or the Left, it might not matter much. But the Republican Party is part of the governing structure of the United States, the world’s most powerful nation with a bristling arsenal of nuclear weapons and a vast array of other exotic weapons....

George W. Bush, one recent example of Republican arrogant ignorance, took the United States from an era of general peace, prosperity and, yes, budget surpluses to a desperate time of war, financial collapse and trillion-dollar deficits. Bush’s ineptitude is still being felt by millions of jobless Americans and a struggling world economy.

Yet, the Republicans and their impressive propaganda machine have convinced large numbers of Americans that what is needed is a bigger dose of George W. Bush in the person of Mitt Romney, who, despite his mincing steps contrasted to Bush’s swagger, represents Bush’s policies on steroids, i.e., more tax cuts, more global belligerence.

Romney is trusting that the combination of true-believers and the truly confused will get him over the hump, and some polls show that he remains within range of reaching his goal, the White House. But what would happen if he gets his “50.1 percent”?

...How can the GOP be salvaged when its philosophical leaders are the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter? How can Americans intervene to remake the Republican Party into a constructive – and necessary – counterweight to the Democrats?

The only answer appears to be a series of crushing electoral defeats for this Republican Party. Not just one or two disappointing cycles but a consistent repudiation of this extremist organization until its more moderate elements can reclaim leadership and redirect – not simply repackage – the policies.

Like a person suffering from a violent split personality, the traditional Republican Party cannot coexist with the right-wing radicalism that has taken over my dad’s GOP. Only a determined intervention from the outside – from the American electorate over several election cycles – can give the old Republicans a chance to reemerge.

If the Tea Partiers and the neocons are repudiated again and again, the Republican Party could get back in touch with its earlier traditions of thoughtful policies, those bipartisan ideas that helped build a great nation.