Monday, April 30, 2007

Grim Old Party - New York Times

David Brooks says that Newt Gingrich is the Republicans' savior. Rather odd, because Newt was the person who defined Republicans as hard-right tax-cutting fundamentalists in the 1990s:

Grim Old Party - New York Times: The Republicans suffered one unpleasant event in November 2006, and they are headed toward an even nastier one in 2008. The Democrats have opened up a wide advantage in party identification and are crushing the G.O.P. among voters under 30. Moreover, there has been a clear shift, in poll after poll, away from Republican positions on social issues and on attitudes toward government. Democratic approaches are favored on almost all domestic, tax and fiscal issues, and even on foreign affairs.

The public, in short, wants change. And yet the Republicans refuse to offer that. On Capitol Hill, there is a strange passivity in Republican ranks. Republicans are privately disgusted with how President Bush has led their party and the nation, but they don’t publicly offer any alternatives. They just follow sullenly along. They privately believe the country needs new approaches to the war against Islamic extremism, but they don’t offer them. They try to block Democratic initiatives, but they don’t offer the country any new ways to think about the G.O.P. They are like people quietly marching to their doom....

The party is blessed with a series of charismatic [presidential] candidates who are not orthodox Republicans. But the pressures of the campaign are such that these candidates have had to repress anything that might make them interesting.... Mitt Romney created an interesting health care reform, but he’s suppressing that.... Rudy Giuliani has an unusual profile that won him a majority of votes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, of all places, but he’s suppressing that.... John McCain has a record on taxes and spending that suggests he really could take on entitlements. But... he suppressed that.... Fred Thompson may enter the race as the Authentic Conservative, even though deep in his heart he’s no more George Allen than the rest of them.

The big question is, Why are the Republicans so immobile? There are several reasons. First... the conservative movement has grown a collection of special interest groups that restrict its mobility... the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform. Anybody who offers unorthodox social policies gets whacked by James Dobson.... Second... the corrupting influence of teamism... sticking together with other conservatives, not thinking.... Third, there is the oppressive power of the past... the sacred parameters of thought.... Fourth, there is the bunker mentality. Republican morale has been brutalized by the Iraq war and the party’s decline. This state of emotional pain is not conducive to risk-taking and free and open debate. In sum, Republicans know they need to change, but they have closed off all the avenues for change.

The tale is not entirely hopeless. McCain seems now to be throwing off his yoke. Newt Gingrich is way ahead of his colleagues when it comes to new ideas and policies. The libertarians and paleoconservatives have been losing for so long they are suddenly quite interesting. There are even a few of us who think it is time to revive the Alexander Hamilton-Theodore Roosevelt legacy. Change could, miraculously, come soon. But the odds are it will take a few more crushing defeats before Republicans tear down the self-imposed walls that confine them.

1 comment:

save_the_rustbelt said...

I'm a lifelong Republican, and have pledged not to vote for or support any GOP candidate until Shrub is out of office.

Looking at the 2006 Ohio election results, I'm not the only one.

The GOP has no viable candidate for 2008, and no one I can support yet.