Listing To Starboard
By now it’s conventional wisdom that the Republican Party has moved extremely far to the right. So far, in fact, that Michele Bachmann (heretofore best known for this clip in which she demands that her fellow congress members be investigated for “anti-American ideas”) is now, incredibly, a top-tier presidential candidate.
The GOP is so far to the right that it is practically meeting itself coming around the corner, voting against ideas that it once supported, like tax cuts, and even initiatives Republicans once sponsored, simply because they are proposed by Democrats as possible solutions to some of the nation’s problems.
Republicans are so far to the right that a Democratic President cannot merely be opposed on policy issues, he must be tarred as “non-American” and have his citizenship questioned, along with his love of country and the legitimacy of his Presidency.
They are so far to the right that they damage themselves by taking impossible, inflexible stances on issues such as immigration, Social Security and women’s health that will cost them dearly with key voter blocs in upcoming elections.
They are so far to the right that they field unelectable people like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller and Ken Buck, and then rejoice when these candidates lose, because they have made a statement about ideological purity.
They are so far to the right that, after sweeping to a resounding victory in the 2010 elections on a platform of fiscal responsibility, they immediately began passing record numbers of unpopular bills in state legislatures dealing with Sharia law, restrictions to abortion, suppression of minority voters and union-stripping.
They are so far to the right that some of them have begun openly carrying guns to political events.
They are so far to the right that, for the first time in American history, they sincerely threatened to default on the full faith and credit of the United States by refusing to renew the debt ceiling.
They are so far to the right that Karl Rove is now warning them of the dangers of their new extremism.
They are so far to the right that, in the debate on August 11th when Republican primary candidates were asked which of them would oppose a budget containing a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases, all eight on stage raised their hands.
They’re really pretty far to the right.
So, in the dog days of August in this lull between debates, recall elections, straw polls and breaking news, I want to ask a question of all the very smart people in the forum: Why do you think this has happened?
What historical, political and sociological factors have coalesced at this particular moment that have resulted in the modern Republican party looking like something Richard Nixon (and even Ronald Reagan) would hardly have recognized? Of course we know the Tea Party has been a major factor in yanking the whole party to the right. The genesis of the Tea Party is generally considered to have been Rick Santelli’s famous rant from the trading floor on February 19, 2009, in which he totally lost it while giving vent to his screaming outrage over the idea that his taxes might be used to help pay the mortgages of poor people who had over-bought in the housing market. “What we need,” Santelli roared, “is a Chicago Tea Party!”…and a movement was born.
But something like the Tea Party doesn’t just materialize out of thin air. Santelli’s words had to fall on fertile, already well-tilled ground, or they would never have taken root and spread so quickly. And that’s what I would like the forum to address. What was going on in the public consciousness that made the Tea Party all but inevitable? Some important factor (or perhaps a number of them) must have been at work to make conservatives so uniquely receptive to the Tea Party message, and so eager to embrace an ideology that is more socially and fiscally extremist than anything we’ve seen in recent years.
What do you think those factors were? I have my opinion, but I’d like to know what you all think was the major impetus in pulling the conservative movement so far to the right that all the things I listed above…events that would have been remarkable in American politics just a few years ago…have now become nothing more than business as usual.
Something has caused the S.S. GOP to list so badly to starboard that some serious conservatives have begun to fear it’s in danger of capsizing. Let’s try to figure out why this has happened.
- Mitt Romney: Tea Party Is Good For Washington (huffingtonpost.com)
- Op-Ed Contributors: Crashing the Tea Party (nytimes.com)
- White House paints GOP field with tea party brush — The Associated Press (news.google.com)
- Crashing the Tea Party (brickcity.wordpress.com)
- VIDEO: They’re Still Not Listening To Rick Santelli. “Want to see a microcosm of everything that (pajamasmedia.com)
- Santelli: If not for the tea party, we’d be rated BBB (bellalu0.wordpress.com)