Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Opposition Party

David Frum, a credentialed conservative Republican and former George W. Bush speechwriter, appears to be feeling a lot like our own relative, the once- upon- a- time lifelong Republican office holder who says he didn't leave the Republican Party, "the party left me."

Steve Benen describes Frum's angst:
GOP leaders knew there was a risk -- if they lost, they'd be stuck with a far more ambitious reform law than a scaled back, bipartisan deal many Dems would have accepted -- but they genuinely believed their combination of obstructionism, lies, and obstinacy would prevail. They gambled.

And they lost.

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum, in a fascinating piece yesterday, described the success of health care reform as the "most crushing legislative defeat" for the right in a half-century. It was, Frum explained, a debacle of conservative Republicans' own making:

"We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

"There were leaders who knew better, who would have liked to deal. But they were trapped. Conservative talkers on Fox and talk radio had whipped the Republican voting base into such a frenzy that deal-making was rendered impossible. How do you negotiate with somebody who wants to murder your grandmother? Or -- more exactly -- with somebody whom your voters have been persuaded to believe wants to murder their grandmother?"

Frum concluded with a message to his fellow conservatives: "[I]t's Waterloo all right: ours."

All true, but what comes next? An extremist ideology-driven Republican Party reduced to representing ignorant Teabaggers, spittle-lipped psychotics, misogynist John Wayne worshipers, and unreconstructed Confederate racists holed up in a handful of states in the deep South?

That would not be good for American democracy. The nation needs at least two viable political parties. Every administration and congressional majority benefits from a loyal opposition party. Those in the majority and those in the minority should be working in tandem for the nation's good. None should go so far as to obstruct the nation's business just for the sake of obstruction or presumed partisan gain.

The public prevarications, obduracy, and demented misconduct of so many prominent present-day Republicans over the past year -- from Sarah Palin's continuing lies about "death panels" to Mitch McConnell's deliberate strategy of obstructing the duly elected President of the United States even before he was sworn in -- is blowing back to render this Republican opposition party worse than useless.

Today's Republican Party needs adult supervision. If it isn't forthcoming, then it's time for our relative and the millions of others who recognize the Republican Party of today is neither loyal nor an effective opposition, to start another political party; one dedicated to honest, thoughtful, loyal opposition in the best interests of the nation as much when it is in the minority as when a majority of voters elect it to govern.

Dept. of Amplification
3-22 pm
Even self-proclaimed 'moderates' who remain in this infantile version of the Republican Party are forced to look like lunatics, themselves.

Dept. of Yet More Amplification
3-22 pm
James Fallows recalls an exchange on the House floor last year which a correspondent "witnessed myself" that shows how low the modern-day Republican Party has sunk.
"GOP member: 'I'd like this in the bill.'
"Dem member response: 'If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?'
"GOP member: 'You know I can't vote for the bill.'
"Dem member: 'Then why should we put it in the bill?'

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