Republican Big Thinkers still need to get their heads out
I’ve just spend an hour or so looking at stuff from National Review and Weekly Standard sites (I still have Human Events, Powerline, RedState, Instapundit and others to go). I started where I did because I was looking for some idea what the ‘big thinkers’ of Republicanism were coming up with, following their decisive defeat this week.
It’s a pretty short list. Go after Hispanics. They are immigrant, entrepreneurial, family-oriented, religious, Catholic, socially conservative.
Really, that’s all. If you leave aside the odd gold bug or small-government libertarian, all you have left is the idea of snagging a bigger part of this fast-growing demographic. According to Mona Charen, “If Mitt Romney had received the 44 percent of the Hispanic vote that George W. Bush obtained in 2004, he’d be moving into the White House in January.”
This is pretty small ball. More than that, it’s delusional. Not a single voice was raised to argue that Republicans might want to put some distance between themselves and the demented theocratic reactionaries of the modern Christian right. No one advocated moderating their stand on abortion (though some observed that blabbermouth morons like Akin and Mourdock should be weeded out). No one said that perhaps the Republican Party should not stand foursquare for Wall Street. No one mentioned perhaps raising taxes on the top 1%. There wasn’t even that much talk about the deficit, except as something Obama was forcing on us. No one opined that maybe it had been a bad idea to open the floodgates of anonymous dark money, drowning swing states in a torrent of negative ads. Not a word was said about the lost investment of more than $300 million, or that a different approach might be called for next time around. Nobody questioned the fact that the Republicans have let their party be hijacked, stolen from the Fortune 500 crowd by a pack of billionaire nutjobs. Not a word was said that maybe it was a bad idea to try to shrink the electorate by using restrictions on registration and acceptable ID to disenfranchise students, minorities, the poor and the elderly. And certainly no one brought up the idea of coming to terms with the science behind climate change.
All the arguments were about how to make the smallest possible electoral fixes, and how to keep them small. As Charles Krauthammer put it: “The country doesn’t need two liberal parties.” So, as I said, small ball.
And even this argument, that Republicans must embrace Hispanics, is delusional, which is my second point. One has to suspect that all these people spent the primary season asleep in coffins filled with the earth of their native land (John Galt’s valley in the Rockies, presumably). How else to explain the fact that they failed to notice the racist wave that stormed through their party? Several authors faulted Romney for trying to go hard right on immigration after the challenge from Texas Governor Rick Perry. But none of them accepted the context; that the primary was a frenzied contest of reactionary one-upmanship. Candidates had to please the primary voting base of the Republican Party, which will have nothing to do with proposals for immigration reform, any more than with women’s freedom to choose regarding their own sexuality and reproduction, or separation of Church and State.
The Republicans have ceded their destiny to the Kochs and every other fantastically wealthy reactionary who thinks they can pound the world into submission with their money. These are the people who encouraged and financed the Tea Party, which has taken over the Republican freshman (and sophomore) classes in Washington, and which dominates the Republican primary process.
This is not a party prepared to live in the twenty-first century. That’s not to say that they won’t regain the White House; I’m sure they will. But if these commentators represent the best thinking the Republicans have to offer, we can count on the GOP remaining the deluded halfway-house it has made itself.
I have to give a special hat-tip to young William Kristol, still trying to be an intellectual after all these years. In the Weekly Standard, he argues that Republicans should embrace new ideas.
If a senator or a representative has a good proposal on immigration or monetary policy or education or tax reform, he or she should introduce it. If a candidate has an idea, he or she should run on it. Don’t worry about getting the go-ahead from leadership or from power brokers, from donors or from interest groups.
Considering that the modern Republican Party has imposed the most draconian party discipline since the days of Stalin, this is kind of rich.