The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

What’s next, GOP?

with 4 comments

An exciting era of American history has begun.  Bipartisanship (even post-partisanship) is on the front burner.  The President is trooping down to the Capitol today to listen to Republicans.

Competence is in; cronyism is out.  Effectiveness is in; ideology is out.  Diplomacy is in; war is, well, less.  A new wave of young people have energized government.  A new wave of non-white participation has democratized government.

But the most powerful in the GOP read their recent trouncing as a sign that they’re not conservative enough.  As the thoughtful conservative David Brooks writes in the NY Times:

David Brooks

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In one camp, there are the Traditionalists, the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed. […]

To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are the most prominent voices in the Traditionalist camp […]

Only one thing is for sure: In the near term, the Traditionalists are going to win the fight for supremacy in the G.O.P.

Alaska governor {{w|Sarah Palin}}
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Brooks argues that the Right still has the institutions, the money, and the Republicans in Congress.  Further, it owns the mythology:

Members of the conservative Old Guard see themselves as members of a small, heroic movement marching bravely from the Heartland into belly of the liberal elite. In this narrative, anybody who deviates toward the center, who departs from established doctrine, is a coward, and a sellout.

Zealotry likes to win, but winning isn’t the zealot’s first goal.  The first goal is preserving the cause at all costs, for change is threat.  Thoughtful self-examination is treason.

Radio talk show host and co...
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via Daylife

Never mind that the cause’s self-image simply isn’t true:

Most professional conservatives are lifelong Washingtonians who live comfortably as organization heads, lobbyists and publicists. Their supposed heroism consists of living inside the large conservative cocoon and telling each other things they already agree with.

So Republicans, Brooks argues, simply haven’t lost enough yet to be convinced that change is needed.

Too bad.  Conservatism is an important element of American political discussion.  But in isolation, doing little but self-congratulation and putting up roadblocks, it’s an impediment to good government.

I hope they learn their lesson quickly.  Brooks doesn’t think it likely:

[T]his embattled-movement mythology provides a rationale for crushing dissent, purging deviationists and enforcing doctrinal purity. It has allowed the old leaders to […] maintain control of (an ever more rigid) movement.

In short, the Republican Party will probably veer right in the years ahead, and suffer more defeats.[…]

Too  bad.

What do you think?  Where do you see it going?  Where would you like for it to go?

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Written by Monte

January 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

4 Responses

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  1. Good comment, Dan – I share your sentiments. I, too, consider myself pro-life, but I don’t believe overturning Roe is an effective way to reduce abortions or a productive way for dialogue on doing so to begin. I wrote a little about it here.
    Thanks for adding your thoughts!


    January 28, 2009 at 7:14 pm

  2. I think somewhere out there in the political muck and mire lies a new movement. It may come to rest in the Democratic Party, or maybe the Republican Party. Being somewhat “older” (not just out of college), I still hold to pro-life causes, but not JUST to pro-life causes.

    What would be wonderful to me is to have someone politically who is pro-life all the way through life! Womb to tomb. They know the issues of the pre-born, but also know there are those who need help in society and sometimes government IS the answer in some way. There are issues of poverty, race and education that matter and there are creative ways of solving the problems.

    That would be a great political movement, in my opinion. I’m not hitching my horse to that wagon, or any wagon, but I’d sure like to see it.


    January 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm

  3. Thanks, Amos.

    I guess it’s fear, somehow – fear that change is evil, fear that by reflecting one can be talked out of believing what is true, fear that consideration of any question is tantamount to revolt against God.

    At the root, I think it is a fear that God will allow us to be seduced away into infidelity – really, that God is simply too small to hang onto us if we use the brains he gave us.

    So we become rabbits, frozen in the headlights, daring not think or move out of the way.


    January 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm

  4. Your sentence “thoughtful self-examination is treason” really rings home with me.


    January 28, 2009 at 11:35 am

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