Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
A friend sent me a link to an interview on All In with Chris Hayes, in which Hayes interviewed Michael Lofgren who spent 28 years working in Congress, the last 16 of which as a senior analyst for the House and Senate Budget Committees, and who penned this controversial opinion two years ago for Truth Out, Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult; and Bruce Bartlett, former senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House, and former deputy assistant secretary for economic policy in the George H.W. Bush administration.
These are Republicans with impeccable credentials who have had enough of the radical extremism of the modern Republican Party. Transcript for Tuesday, October 1:
MICHAEL LOFGREN: [T]this is not the 80s. This is something new. The party that I joined was the party of Lincoln, the party of Theodore Roosevelt. The party of Eisenhower. These were patriots all. They were for one nation, indivisible.
Now, what we have an insurrectionist, neo-Confederate party that seems
dedicated to all kinds of apocalyptic outcomes. I don`t know whether this comes from their fundamentalist religious outlook, or whether it`s just good fundraising for them among their base. But they are no longer a normal political party. They are an insurrectionist party that is bringing down the government.
* * *
[I] think what we`re really seeing here is a crisis of democracy, where one party believes its principles are so correct, so strong and the other party`s principles are so evil that we`re essentially talking about God compromising with Satan, and you can`t
do that, and therefore, they`re justified by using any means necessary, perhaps even revolutionary or military means, to get their way, despite the fact that the majority disagrees with them.
They don`t think that that matters in the slightest. The truth of their principles is the only thing that matters to them.
* * *
HAYES: Mike, you said the word "insurrectionist". And I want to ask you about the evolution from a normal party to what you called a not normal party.
How did that happen? What is the rupture? What`s the break that happened to create the conditions for a party to start acting in a way the current modern Republican Party is acting?
LOFGREN: Well, I would say Newt Gingrich`s speakership in 1995 was a weigh station on road to this what we have now.
But I would also say that the GOP as it exists now is kind of a Frankenstein monster that was created by the twin shocks of 9/11 and the financial meltdown in 2008, because 9/11 sort released a lot of unpleasant things in the American id, a kind of absolutism of good versus evil, a kind of totalitarian outlook. We`ve seen this with the NSA.
And then the 2008 crash was similar to the Great Depression in many countries. We were lucky. We had FDR. Many countries went violently to the right.
HAYES: Bruce, the other way that people talk about this is just the way that
a combination of the big one in 2010 and the ability to shape the way districts are controlled at the state level, gerrymandering and also kind of Democratic divide between the House Republican Caucus and the rest of American in which increasingly, the members of the House Republican Caucus that want this strategy, their constituents don`t look like the constituents that went to the polls to elect Barack Obama.
BARTLETT: No, that`s right. One thing I want to add to what Mike said and I agree completely, is that there deeper historical forces at work here, namely, the takeover of the Republican Party by the South. We talk about Republicans taking over the South but actually it`s the other way around.
BARTLETT: And the politics of the Republican Party today can best be understood as the politics of the Southern Democrats. Now, don`t misunderstand me. I`m not saying that this is a racial matter. I`m just saying that the nature of the politics is the same, and I`ve been thinking a lot the last two days about a term that you`re probably familiar with called "massive resistance" —
BARTLETT: — which was a term that was used in the 1950s to people who opposed the Brown versus Board of Education decision and used any means necessary, constitutional, legal, illegal, whatever it took to fight the desegregation of the public schools. And that, in that sense, the Republican politics of today are the same as the politics of the Southern Democrats of the 1950s.
One of the high priests of Beltway centrism, political scientist Norman Ornstein, has been ringing the warning bell about the radicalism of the modern Republican Party for a couple of years now as well. Ornstein's latest warning in The Atlantic is The Republican Hardliners Aren’t Conservatives, They’re Radicals:
All [this] is part of a larger problem that exists, one that
has had me referring to the drivers in the GOP not as conservatives but
as radicals. Rod Dreher, writing in The American Conservative in a piece called "Republicans, Over the Cliff," eloquently
makes the same point. Conservatives believe in limited government — but
also that the government we need to have — the services from national
security to homeland security to interstate transportation — should be
efficiently and competently provided, and that when government
intervenes, it should do so with as much deference to the marketplace as
The current drivers of the GOP are much more hostile to
government. Thus, the assault on all federal employees via cuts in pay
and benefits; the all-out attack to delegitimize the Internal Revenue
Service and its employees by Darrell Issa and his cronies, designed to
make it harder for them to carry out their basic functions; the
enthusiasm for the sequester; and the lack of concern about the societal
impact of mindless cuts to basic research, food safety, and homeland
Some of this impulse is libertarian in nature, as evidenced
by Senator Rand Paul’s preferred budget, which makes Rep. Paul Ryan’s
look New Dealish by comparison. Some of it reflects ignorance or willful
suspension of disbelief — not understanding, for example, the impact of
indiscriminate cuts on our health research infrastructure and on our
nation’s seed corn in terms of our technological edge; or supporting the
sequester but then decrying its cuts in medical research (without
noting that these cuts would not occur without the sequester).
But a lot of it is an emotional, zealous reaction to
America today — an ardent willingness to break crockery and demolish
existing institutions to achieve the goal of eviscerating government as
we know it, the good with the bad. As Dreher put it, "When I think of
the Republican Party, I don’t think of principled conservative
legislators who are men and women of vision strategy. I think of
ideologues who are prepared to wreck things to get their way. They have
confused prudence — the queen of virtues, and the cardinal virtue of
conservative politics — with weakness."
Not all congressional Republicans are in that camp. Many,
especially in the Senate, fit a more traditional conservative mold. But
few are willing to stand up to the zealots, and even fewer are willing
to cast votes that depart from the pack. All of them dutifully recite
the mantra that Obamacare is an abomination that ought to be eliminated,
and none notes that it is basically the same plan as 1994’s
Grassleycare/Hatchcare/Durenbergercare/Chafeecare, which was built
around an individual mandate, private insurers on exchanges, and premium
support for less fortunate Americans. More strikingly, no one notes
that Ryan’s long-term plan for Medicare, built around regulated
exchanges and premium support, is basically Obamacare for seniors. Every
opportunity to reform and refine the Affordable Care Act through
traditional institutional means, working with both parties, has been
rejected by them.
Here is Dreher’s conclusion: "The Republicans cannot govern. These
people aren’t conservatives. They are radicals. What on earth would
Russell Kirk say if he were alive to see this?"
There is a consensus among Democrats, establishment Republicans, and centrist moderates: our national problem is the radicalized, far-right movement conservatism of the so-called Tea Party and its component factions, which includes the Neo-Confederate Birthers-Birchers-Secessionists, the Theocrats of the Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists, its billionaire-funded campaign structure (the "Kochtpus," Club for Growth, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks. etc.), and crucially, the conservative media entertainment complex, which has mainstreamed and normalized radicalism.
It is time for a Grand Alliance between Democrats, establishment Republicans, and centrist moderates in a united front against this dangerous radical element which seeks to destroy the very foundations of our civic institutions and the long-cherished principles and values of American democracy.