Sometimes I think Michael Gerson is a very reasonable conservative, and I do think that "reasonable conservative" is not a completely outlandish concept. I mean, it’s possible, sometimes, okay? His latest column is an attempt to advise the Republicans to find leadership that will give them the success they seek.
He begins with the expected admonitions, they cannot be the party of Hate, and they must stop the gaffes that get a liberal’s foot in the door to expose hypocrisy. Still, here is an example of what is a tough row to hoe, if not a genuine oxymoronic impossibility, “Conservative principles must be applied to new problems, such as stagnant wages, the loss of blue-collar jobs and routine educational failure.”
The fundamental problem of the party on the right is that conservatism has become the party of protection; protecting the privileges and wealth of the stinking rich and the corporate raiders. Allied in their coalition is a group of conspiracy theorists, desperate to deliver a message that the other side are cheaters, illegal aliens, or at least card carrying communists. Another group in there is the “government, and all that is stands for is evil. The inherent irony with that bunch is manifest in the demand that we need to respect and increase benefits to the military, and keep the government out of Medicare. These people have given the party a bad name in the eyes of many moderates and independents.
Those voters who believe in caution regarding change, based on religious or traditional values, combined with the believers in market forces, and consequences for bad choices people likely make up the base of the party. Most of that “silent majority” of Republicans has watched their party be tortured and twisted by its own extremists. Enough Republican leaders have corrupted the political system to make it very difficult to effect the change that is rightly recognized as needed by the not-so-far right. The dubious redrawing of voting district lines has established a norm of “primary-ing” sensible candidates in favor of more reactionary ones. It happened all over Texas, in Indiana, and many more places. Largely contributing to the cause is the fact that extremists tend to be more dedicated voters. So the Republican operatives have created a legislative machine that pushes itself to the right.
Indeed, it is pretty easy to attribute ‘stagnant wages, loss of blue-collar jobs, and routine educational failure’ are all due to Republican policies run amok. I for one do not foresee any republican policies that repair the damage they have done in those areas. But I do agree with Gerson, that attention to these issues, among others such as infrastructure, fair immigration reform (and give up with the ObamaCare repeals!) are the real only ticket to national political power.
Fortunately, the astounding sums of money that try to buy influence do not yet replace actual votes by actual people. But if those actual voters don’t actually vote, the rich will continue to buy power. And Joe the Plumber and his beer drinking buddies might believe they are standing up for the right cause, but the rug is slowly being pulled from underneath them. And rich guys’ home is painted red.
In England, the farther right voters have formed their own party, as Gerson points out. And he laments that Cameron has not been able to rein the English right in. Well, there are not enough Catholics to restore the Republican party to sanity, even if that denomination did vote as a block. I am afraid that the various noisy, crazy, check-writing, conspiricist, nationalist, fear-mongering, gun toting, rino-name calling, uncompromising accusers will need to come under some rational control. Or they could form their own party, if Republican Loyalty weren’t so doggone important to them. Just when the public at large thinks the reactionary fringe has recessed, some whacko is elected, or gets press coverage from some outlandish comment, and the ones who should be marginalized are seen as front and center. Good luck with all that, Michael.