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RIP Moderate Republicans

April 28, 2009


Welcome, Senator Specter and thank you for giving the Democrats a somewhat surprising “win-win” situation in Pennsylvania and — assuming Norm Coleman eventually wakes up to reality — a very likely 60 seat, filibuster-breaking majority, at least some of the time, as well as ceding all kinds of obscure, hard-to-understand-yet-potentially important possible parliamentary goodies to the Democrats. (Though I hope you’ll forgive me if I find myself rooting for an actual liberal and pro-labor candidate in your primary, though you’ll likely have the big guns on your side.)

And thank you, Republicans, for becoming a party of discredited sociopathic bomb-all-the-time neocons, increasingly dissatisfied fundamentalists, bigots, tinfoil hate birthers, and a few frustrated libertarians. As Al Franken used to say on his radio show, the Democratic party is now a liberal party, a moderate party, and a conservative policy, as there was nothing genuinely conservative about Bush’s administration.

Now, I want a two party system at least, but for right now a bit of one-party rule a la FDR won’t kill us. When Republicans decide it’s time to become part of the game, they might consider the ramifications of the fact that there was a time when the words “liberal Republican” was no more an oxymoron than “conservative Democrat” is today.  There was a time when a guy like this could actually get the party’s nomination.

Of course, Wendell Wilkie lost the general election rather badly. To paraphrase Harry Truman, when you give people a choice between a Democrat and a Democrat, they’ll go with the Democrat. Though you need “the big tent”, a certain amount of brand-ID vis a vis a “core set of principles” is a good thing for a party.

For decades, the Republicans gradually moved their party rightward, and it worked for them. I’ve been pulling for a mirror-image course for the Dems pretty much since the day Michael Dukakis gave a politely befuddled answer to a CNN reporter who ask him about his wife being raped and killed. But it’s always possible to go too far…way too far. There is always a moment when “too much of a good thing” becomes a horrifically bad thing. Any hand can be overplayed and a very lucky but very, very bad poker player just got out of the White House. A literally rather good poker player is now there. And that’s where today’s GOP has placed itself.

From → politics

  1. John P. Garry permalink

    Wilke’s talk is proof that there indeed was a “liberal consensus” in this country at one time. Except for the urgent, just-short-of-angry tone, and the final comments on excessive spending, Wilke sounds like an FDR Democrat. We’ve come a long way, baby.


  2. Yes. It’ll be interesting to see if we develop a similar consensus. I do know this, “Big Hollywood” seems to think we’re already there at least in terms of not only “the liberal media” but even large corporations — their mistake being that they equate “liberal” with “not crazy-ass far right.”

    At the risk of going all Godwin’s law on you, I’m reminded of the upper-crust Englishman who is supposed to have said that antisemitism was all well and good until Hitler came around and ruined the the fun by overdoing it.

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