Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The GOP's move to the right

I recently saw David Frum on a talk show.  Mr. Frum is a moderate Republican, something many people consider an endangered species.  On this particular show, one which would be considered as being hosted by a left of center host, Bill Maher, Frum was commenting on the recent Jeb Bush quote that his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, or Bush 41 as some refer to him, and the patron saint of the Republican party, Ronald Reagan, would not have had a chance in the recent Republican primary as they would have been considered just right of center, at best.  What both Jeb Bush and David Frum were saying without stating it, is that the Republican party, at least its very vocal and powerful base, is much further right, politically and socially, than Reagan and Bush 41.

On the face of it, I agree, but for a slightly different reason, one that could be looked upon as similar to the old conundrum of the chicken and the egg and which came first.  The Republicans put all their eggs into the basket of Obama as a left wing radical both during the run up to the 2008 election and ever since.  The reality is that President Obama has governed much more as a center left president, if not center right, at times.  

Sure, many consider the health care reform bill as the "biggest power grab" by the government in history, but the reality is that a far left president (and Congress for that matter) would have passed some version of a universal health care reform bill.  Or a single payer system.  Instead, we have a market based solution which helps maintain the profit of the health insurance industry through the individual mandate. 

The auto bailout?  I fully believe that John McCain, had be been elected, would have done the exact same thing. Remember, it was a bailout, not a takeover, as some far right pundits like to say.  We, the American people have stock in these companies, and will eventually sell that stock to private investors once it is clear that the industry is stable.  Sounds like an investment, in some respects.  And, while no one can pretend that they can predict what would have happened had the auto industry not been given some money, we do know that the industry is experiencing an upswing.  It appears to have worked, and many more Americans have jobs than would have been the case had we done nothing.   

These are the two main items being proclaimed as proof of Obama's far left agenda, and in each case, the business world profited.  And just as many left wing ideologues were unhappy with his decisions as their right wing counterparts.

Or, consider the war on terror.  Osama bin Laden?  Dead.  Al-Qaeda?  On the run.  Drone strikes?  Obama had taken to this method like a duck to a pond.  He has even gone so far as to authorize the killing of an American citizen, without due process, and has been reported to be reviewing regularly an enemies list with the intent that these individuals should be killed at the first opportunity.  Does that sound left wing? 

So, all that being true, the Republicans have no alternative but to move to the right so as to differentiate themselves from the Democrats.  They oppose positions they would have taken, have taken in previous administrations.  They present candidates who still think that contraception is immoral.  They admit that regulations were lax and that the oil industry, or at least BP in specifics, may have been culpable in the Deep Horizon disaster, but can't take the middle ground that maybe we should stop new permits and find out what caused the disaster, and shore up the regs that were not followed, or might need to be added, because that was Obama's position and since he is clearly a left wing radical they must continue to propagate the slogan drill baby drill.  If only Obama had said, no more deep sea drilling, period, like the Japanese government did after the Fukushima disasters and they closed ALL the nuclear power plants.  Then the GOP could have taken that middle ground, the sensible position.  But they had no choice because to agree with Obama would force them to admit he is not as far left as they need him to be. 

So, the GOP has slid to the right.  This was inevitable, especially considering that our last president, Bush 43, was an unsuccessful center right president and Obama won a fairly convincing election on this platform.  The  Republicans had no where to go but further right by subtly admitting that Bush 43 was not successful because he had slid to far to the left.  He was not a "true" conservative. 

Interestingly though, fast forward to Mitt Romney's campaign and we see a guy who has moved to the right, in contradiction to his governing career, to win the nomination.  The good news, as I have said before, is that despite the Republican's base clamoring for anybody but Romney, the voters of the party realized that a loss in November was guaranteed with anyone but Romney.  The demise of the moderate Republican?  Perhaps only on TV and in the media.  Perhaps Republican voters are far more center right positioned than the leadership cares to admit.  Clearly, they are a silent bunch, but again, in the end they rejected the darlings of the far right. And the reality is, without the votes of the moderate Republicans and the independent voters, Romney can't win in November.  Hopefully, we will see him stake out some positions that make those two voting blocks a bit more comfortable.  Especially those center right Republicans, many of whom are tired of being lumped in with the far right crowd who continue to stand on the clearly untrue claims of Obama's radical left governing and are embarassed by the influence people like the "Donald" have on their party.

As David Frum said, I also hope that Jeb Bush continues to represent the moderate Republican, continues to fight as Mr. Frum said, because I believe that Jeb's perspective is shared by many Republicans who are afraid of the far right wing of their party.  And, as a Democrat and a liberal, I will feel much more comfortable with Romney, should he win, if he governs as a center right president.  Even in that regard, I will still have plenty in which to disagree with him, but at least he will represent the majority of Americans, not the minority as represented by conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, etc.


     

 

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