Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
From a political science perspective, one of the things that most irritates me about media coverage of politics is the use of labels that have been frozen in time since the 1960s. The Democrats are "left" and the Republicans are "right" dichotomy has lost any and all meaning in modern context, and yet the media still insists on using these labels.
When large majorities of Americans agree with the Democrats on a wide array of issues, this is a "centrist" or "majoritarian" position. Tea-Publican positions on issues that are rejected by the same large majorities of Americans are thus "extreme" or "fringe," a "minority" position.
The political parties should not be viewed through the prism of 1960s revisionist history. In the 1960s, there were genuine liberal wings in both the Democratic and Republican parties, and there were conservative wings in both the Democratic and Republican parties. It was never as simple as left versus right.
The modern day Democratic Party is far less traditionally "liberal" today than it was during the FDR to Lyndon Johnson years. iI is much more a centrist or majoritarian party. The modern day Republican Party is far less traditionally "conservative" today than it was during the Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush years. It is much more radicalized by the Christian Right, the John Birchers and the high priests of the conservative media entertainment complex cult.
The modern day Republican Party is not your father's GOP. Former Kansas Senator and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole — who is from your father's GOP — wholeheartedly agrees.
Bob Dole told Fox News Sunday that the Senate
Republicans are abusing the filibuster, and he doubts that he, Richard
Nixon, or Ronald Reagan could make it in today’s Republican Party. Bob Dole Scolds GOP: Reagan Wouldn’t Make It In Today’s Republican Party:
Asked his thoughts on the modern GOP, Dole — a former Republican
national chairman, the 1976 GOP vice presidential pick, and the 1996
Republican presidential nominee — suggested, to host Chris Wallace,
that the party lacks any positive ideas and is no longer a place for
even conservative Republicans like himself:
WALLACE: What do you think of your party, the Republicans today?
WALLACE: You describe the GOP of your generation as Eisenhower
Republicans, moderate Republicans. Could people like you, even Ronald
Reagan — could you make it in today’s Republican Party.
DOLE: I doubt it. Reagan couldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, cause he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.
Watch the video:
Dole, now 89, also took his own party to task for abuse of the
Senate’s cloture rules. Wallace noted that “In your first two years as a
Senator, there were 7 motions filed — cloture motions to end debate. In
the last two years, there were 115 cloture motions,” and asked the
five-term Senator whether it is inappropriate that due to minority
obstruction it now takes a 60-vote super-majority to pass any
legislation or confirm any nominees.
“No doubt about it,” Dole told him, “There are some cases where you could probably justify if, but not many.”
It is important that the media stop covering the modern day GOP as if it is still their father's GOP, it is not. It is radicalized, extreme, and dangerous to traditional American and democratic values, including traditional conservative values. This is not good for America.
UPDATE: Ryan Cooper at the Political Animal blog today makes many of the same points in
The Conservative Reformist Movement Hasn’t Reached the Policy Liftoff Stage Yet (excerpt):
You see, whether some policy is labeled “liberal” or “conservative” is a rather fluid thing. . .
In other words, policy labels are to a great extent determined by the vagaries of history and elite signaling from both directions. This holds for both parties.
The problem with the conservative movement isn’t exactly that current
mainstream Republican policies are all insane (they are, though I don’t
think Krugman give the reformists enough credit for policy heterodoxy),
it’s that the party has completely lost it. It is “ideologically
extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding
of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its
political opposition.” Taking the debt ceiling hostage, for example, is
not the action of a conservative party. It’s the action of an extremist party, willing to risk economic Armageddon for trivial policy changes.
This is, I think, due to the conservative media ecosystem and the
perverse incentives of minority parties in the US constitutional system.
Conservative media is ruled by liars, con men and charlatans
who actively profit from having Democrats in power, and who whipped the
Republican base into a seething frenzy after the election of Obama.
Matters of policy have dissolved almost completely into the froth of
tribal resentment and Obama hatred, which produced a huge class of new
Republican House members who were slavering to attack the president with
whatever tool was closest.
Particular policies are almost totally beside the point—indeed, today’s Republican officials are hilariously apathetic about policy details.
* * *
So, as far as I can tell, the Republican Party has a social problem,
driven partly by crappy famous pundits (Limbaugh et al), partly by an
extremist and nutty base, and partly by the fact that Obama won’t leave
them much non-crazy policy space to call their own.