Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party extremism’

Why GOP administrations are transformative

February 7, 2017

I have to give Donald Trump and Steve Bannon credit.  Their administration is unpopular, most of the leaders of their own party distrust them, yet they are moving forward as if they had won a landslide victory.

I have to go back to Lyndon Johnson before I can find any Democratic President who has acted so decisively on taking office.

This is part of a pattern.  Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and even George W. Bush were transformative Presidents.  Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were not.   What Clinton and Obama basically did was to normalize the changes that Reagan and G.W. Bush brought about.

Michael Kinnucan, writing in Current Affairs magazine, said the difference between the two parties is that the Democratic leaders always try to position themselves in the moderate center, while the Republican leaders continually redefine where the center is—

Ending Medicaid isn’t an obvious or an easy fight—it’s a very efficient program that’s been part of the American social fabric for 50 years, a program with 70 million beneficiary-constituents, one vital to the survival (economic and otherwise) of some of the most photogenically unfortunate people in America (families raising kids with major disabilities, for chrissake!) and a major source of business for the gigantic and very widely geographically distributed healthcare-provision industry.  It’s also very popular; only 13% of Americans support slashing Medicaid. And no wonder: 63% of Americans say that either they or a close friend or family member has been covered by Medicaid at some point. It’s not even arguably in any kind of crisis; there’s no obvious reason to touch it.

So for Republicans, going after Medicaid is picking a big fight, one they could easily dodge.  But that won’t stop them.  They know that destroying this kind of program is key to their vision for America, both ideologically and in terms of budget math.  They’ve known it for years, and they’ve been releasing plans and focus-grouping and developing consensus for years in the wilderness, and now they’re tanned, rested and ready.

And for 95% of their congressfolks it’s not even a question—they’ll vote yes.  They’ll do it in the smartest possible way, too: they’ll say there’s a fiscal crisis and it’s necessary, they’ll say it’s not a cut it’s just market efficiency, they’ll use block-granting to disown the cuts that happen and lay them on the states, and then wait till the cuts reduce the program’s popularity to mop up what’s left.  Most Americans won’t really believe anyone would do what the GOP is about to do until it’s too late.

And hey, maybe they’ll even lose a couple of Congressional races over it, but the Dems won’t be in a strong enough position to reverse the cuts for years and years, and starting a program like this is much harder than ending it.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Source: Current Affairs | Culture & Politics


The problems facing the Republicans

November 8, 2012

The first problem is that while the Republicans are very well-organized as an opposition party, they have not functioned well as a governing party in recent years.  That is the reason Republican resurgences in recent years—under Newt Gingrich in 1994, under George W. Bush in 2000, and under the current leadership two years ago—all petered out.  A short time after the 2008 elections, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his priority goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term President.  What is his goal now?

republican-party-elephantsThe second problem is that, in addition to being tied in with Wall Street, the military industrial complex and the oil and drug industries at least as much as the Democrats, the Republicans also depend on support from Fox News commentators, talk radio hosts and Tea Party leaders who live in an alternate reality, in which, as an example, President Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim-loving socialist.  To paraphrase the late Ayn Rand, it is possible to ignore reality, but it is not possible to ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

The third problem is that the Democratic leadership has moved to the right, and pre-empted positions on the political spectrum once occupied by figures such as Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren and, here in upstate New York, Reps. Barber Conable and Amo Houghton.   The Republicans need to find a way to differentiate themselves from Democrats other than catering to the lunatic fringe.

But so long as the United States has a two-party system, the Democrats from time to time will fail, and the Republican Party will have new opportunities to govern.  If they govern well, they will stay in power.  But to get to that point will require one of the hardest things in the world—learning from past mistakes and doing things differently.

Republican commentators are overly preoccupied, in my opinion, with the increase in the Hispanic population and other groups that tend to vote Democratic.   If Republican leaders, the next time they are in power, can bring about peace and prosperity, the Republican Party will gain among all demographic groups.


Long-time Republican leaves “apocalyptic cult”

September 20, 2011

Michael S. Lofgren was a respected Republican congressional staff member for 28 years.  He worked for Rep. John Kasich from 1983 to 1994, and then was a Republican staff member for the House and Senate budget committees until he resigned in June, saying the Republican Party had devolved into an “apocalyptic cult.”

He gave his reasons for quitting in an eloquent statement that is making the rounds of the Internet.  I think he sums up the current American political situation well.

I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them.

Michael Lofgren

And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest.  Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and “shareholder value,” the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too.  Hence the intensification of the GOP’s decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers.  Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshiping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.  They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” – and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion.  The economy was already weak, but the GOP’s disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further.  Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans’ own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar.  Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets.  Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency – a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America’s status as the world’s leading power.

via Truthout.

That’s strong language, but I don’t think it is exaggerated.