BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
In the land of political punditry, the Republican Party could well be labeled as the Incredible Shrinking Party. Democratic pundits delight in making this observation or pronouncement of the demise of the Republican Party as the viable organization it has been in the past. Reluctantly, the Republican pundits admit that the constituency of the party is shrinking. They are unwilling to admit irrelevance.
Actual polls now show that only 21% of Americans identify themselves as Republican. Adding another 16% who say they are “leaning Republican” does not a contender make. Moderates have left.
While not necessarily announced openly as an operational policy point, it appears that the Republican Party has chosen purity over other considerations. It is more important that their politicians adhere to pure party discipline than it is to be relevant in the halls of government.
Republicans have rejected bi-partisanship. They have brushed aside the hand offered by the new president, and have instead become hardliner opponents of everything. Democrats have passed needed progressive legislation to address national problems, while Republicans have stood by shouting epithets about socialism.
It is strange that the Republicans reject overtures of bi-partisanship by declaring the only bi-partisan way is their way. “Take it or leave it,” they say. Why would they think that the winners of the last election – where change was the issue – would just roll over and continue the failed policies of the past Republican administration?
The Republicans have been mean and vindictive in their reprisals against their own party members who stray to vote their conscience independent of the party line. While they like to declare themselves a party with a broad umbrella during elections, they continue to be a party dominated by relentless, determined, hardcore, conservative extremists. They call these their party “base,” and they must all cater and please this base.
There is no room in today’s Republican Party for moderates. Sen. Arlen Specter is the latest to so conclude. Having been a faithful moderate of that party in the Senate for 29 years, the hardcore right has been all set to back another Republican against him in the next election. Why? He committed treason by supporting Obama’s stimulus package he thought was needed back home in Pennsylvania as well as in America as a whole.
It is time to put the public spotlight on a right-wing political PAC called “Club for Growth.” It is run by a former reactionary extremist congressman named Chocola. Some say he is “to the right of Genghis Khan and just as mean.” This group uses loads of PAC money to punish defectors from the party line. They do so in Republican primary elections where their advertising money has greatest impact in making the party base think these persons are traitors to their cause.
The Club for Growth has already defeated several moderate Republicans in Congress, electing arch-conservatives and consistently intimidating those who might otherwise be more moderate and reasoning in their stance. They seem to have an unlimited supply of money from their hardcore supporters to make things happen within that party.
It is interesting to see the declared purposes of this group on their Internet website. They want to: preserve tax cuts for the wealthy, repeal all inheritance taxes, cut government spending, cut taxes, expand free trade [no mention of fair], change Social Security to private market accounts, stop “abusive” lawsuits against businesses, replace the tax code, spend taxpayer money for vouchers for private schools, and deregulate business and industry.
Theirs is not merely a conservative agenda, it is a regressive agenda. It is obviously a right-wing extremist group with lots of money. How fearsome! The thought of a Republican Party dominated by such people is unsettling. It is well that the party remain irrelevant in the political process as long as it is the party of extremists. God help us if these ever regain power.
One would suppose that these findings are consistent with the reliance on such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Karl Rove as party spokespersons. Behind the scenes lurks Rupert Murdoch, and his media empire, now carrying their message 24/7. His Wall Street Journal now skews the business news in a similar fashion.
In a sense these are parts of the Republican Party disciplinary machinery. The party that returned to national power as one drawing upon crossover “Reagan Democrats” has now returned to it most base nature. It is no longer a party for the moderate, free-thinking statesmen that the nation needs to regain its inner strength.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer