Monday, October 28, 2013

Ex-GOP Senator: Republican Party Totally Disconnected from Reality

From AlterNet:

What went down in D.C. over the past month – has it told us anything about the Republican Party that we didn’t know?

I suppose the obvious answer is that the party is so far off to the right that it can’t even come to grips with reality in America today. Now, that’s the easy answer because it’s clear that the Republicans, through their most extreme members, are showing that tendency. But I think the time has come to focus the blame where it belongs, and that’s with the American people.

You cannot have a government where 46 percent vote for president, about 35 percent vote for Senate, about 25 percent for congressmen. When you get to those total local percentages, that means that any dedicated group within the percentage can have an enormous weight, way beyond their numbers, on policy.

Why do you think it is that the conservatives you’re talking about have been able to wield that outsize influence?

Let’s say out of the 35 percent of Americans that are voting for senator, there’s 5 percent that are dedicated even, and that’s it … As the conservatives stick together, then they can go ahead and outvote everyone else …

The Republican Party started to purge its moderates … starting in about ‘86. I was part of that purge in ‘88 when I lost as senator. Now you’re left with the religious right and the rural votes — and that’s it.

What do you think caused that purge?

A bunch of dedicated conservatives. I mean, don’t forget you had back in the ‘80s William F. Buckley and his conservative movement, and they decided to — rather than be an independent party, they figured that they would go ahead and worm their way into the main Republican Party. And they did that very effectively.

More here.

While I do agree that voting behavior definitely plays a role in all this, I think there's a LOT more going on here than simply people not showing up at the polls in off-year elections.  Indeed, one of the reasons people don't vote is because, these days, they're offered a truly crappy set of choices, and I'm not just talking about the candidates.  The conservative purge of Republican moderates to which Governor Weicker refers has affected the entire political establishment.

Consider this.

For the Democratic Party to be as far to the left as the Republican Party has become to the right, it would have to be pushing federal control of certain major industries like health care, energy, and transportation, a 90% tax rate for the highest income bracket, confiscation of all personally owned firearms, condom distribution to elementary school children, war crimes trials for Bush, Cheney, and Obama, fraud trials for key leaders in the banking industry, massive reparations to the African-American community for slavery and to the Native American population for genocide, removal of "in God we trust" from all US currency, a multi-billion dollar increase in arts funding, state created jobs for the unemployed, and so on.

As much as I'd like to see the so-called "liberal" party embrace a lot of this stuff, being the leftist that I am, I'd be crazy to pretend that's what they're about.  I mean, they're not even close.  The Democrats are a moderate party, center-right, really, especially on economics.  That is, while the conservatives were kicking moderates out of the GOP, the Democratic response was to kick liberals out of their party.  And that means the political dynamic in this country isn't left versus right, but rather center-right versus far-right, creating a false "middle" that's pretty darned conservative.

Who gets your vote when nobody represents your views?

So let's not kid ourselves.  Liberals don't have anything to do with anything in this country.  But I can't help but think that if the left had a real seat at the table, those heinous tinfoil hat wearing secessionist nihilists in the Tea Party wouldn't have hijacked the nation's affairs as easily as they have.

I mean, at least there would be somebody there to call "bullshit" a lot earlier than they do now.