Barry Goldwater wouldn’t recognize it. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it. Let alone Jacob Javits, Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Margaret Chase Smith, Ed Brooke, Chuck Percy, etc., etc.
Barry Goldwater was not a doctrinaire social conservative; he would be seriously taken aback with the anti-gay and anti-choice views, let alone the hard-right interpretation of religion in evidence with today’s cast of Republicans. Ronald Reagan knew how to get along with Democrats, particularly Tip O’Neill. Something tells me that he would have more trouble with the Christine O’Donnells, the Sharron Angles, the Ron Pauls, the Ken Bucks, and the Linda McMahons than with Ted Kennedy or Tip. And I don’t think it was just their mutual Irish heritage!
Most reasonable Republicans and true independents don’t subscribe to the views of the Tea Party candidates. They are not exactly sanguine that the extremists have others in their sights—Sen. Orrin Hatch isn’t radical enough for them, they want to dethrone Sen. Mitch McConnell from his leadership post, and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). Even Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who was lauded as a hero less than a year ago, is vilified by the likes of Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham. [See where Brown gets his campaign money.]
How the worm turns.
Is the Republican Party really defined by Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint? Do the Republicans really answer to Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh and the cast at FOX News? Are Republicans afraid to take on those forces because of ratings and the hard 25 percent of their base that believes Obama is an illegitimate president, a Muslim, and is anti-American? Or do most of the Republican candidates and officeholders believe the falsehoods that are spread so far and wide by Fox? [See who supports DeMint.]
Unfortunately, the Republican Party has changed radically over a generation. First, it was the purging of the moderate voices within the party in the late 1970s. Lately it is the purging of any conservative who might cooperate with Democrats to actually pass legislation.
When the anger is so visceral, the personal fear of losing a job, a home, or a retirement plan is so front and center, voters will “vote no” and elect “Mickey Mouse to the House or Senate” as former NCPAC head Terry Dolan once said. Many officeholders of both stripes don’t understand the extent of voter revulsion with politics and government right now.
Voters were angry and scared and wanted change in 2008; they are angry and scared and want change in 2010. They are furious at elites--those in charge--be they big business or big government. They are frustrated that change is not happening faster. The past couple of years seems like an eternity to many, to those who have watched as this economy has rolled over them like a flood.
Americans want to see immediate action and progress, not some brand of ideological purity or self-destructive rant. The Republican Party is going down a dangerous road if it rejects those who actually do know how to get things done and embraces the candidates who run their mouths, but have never been able to run much else.