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What's Gone Wrong With The GOP?
via Andrew Sullivan, Chester Finn on NRO Online:

What’s gone wrong with the GOP? Let me start by quoting a friend who is both gay and conservative (yes, I know several such): “I’m for low taxes, strong defense and limited government. Why doesn’t the Republican party want me?”

There’s a two-part answer to that question and neither half is good news. The first is that today’s GOP doesn’t really want gays — and it yearns to supervise everybody else’s bedroom and reproductive behavior as well as (implicitly, at least) their relationship to God. The second is that Republicans are no longer really in favor of limited government. Besides having their own version of a nanny state, they want to spend and spend, start program after program, ladle out the pork, make deals with influence peddlers, and spin the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street. Yes, they still pretend to favor low taxes but that’s an illusion; they pay for limitless government via huge deficits that will mean high taxes for my granddaughter.

Three other domestic problems — and then a word about foreign policy.

First, while claiming to favor state and local control of social programs, the Republicans have accepted if not advocated astonishing amounts of micro-management from Washington, even when they were in charge. Consider the No Child Left Behind Act, where the White House and congressional leaders wound up getting it exactly backward: instead of national education standards, tests, and sunlight combined with state/local/school/parent autonomy regarding how (and when and even whether) to attain those standards, they decreed that states would set their own standards (and pick their own tests) while Washington dictates timelines, interventions, remedies, and procedures, even the selection of reading programs. And all of this offset by very little school choice. Perhaps this was the price of bipartisan legislation in 2001, but it’s not where the GOP should be five years later.

Second, the immigration-policy schism is catastrophic. Besides smacking of nativism, it repels legal immigrants who might vote Republican — a swelling population. It’s also bad for the economy, bad for law enforcement and bad for millions of kids who live here — and will grow up here — but through absolutely no fault of their own aren’t (or their parents aren’t) legal. Let the Democrats be split by anti-immigrant trade unions and job-wary blacks. Let the GOP say “Welcome. Play by the rules — before and after you come — and we’ll find a way to make you legal.”

Third, some of the party’s environmental positions are embarrassing, above all its denial of the global-warming problem and all that it portends. How can the U.S. deal energetically with such enormous warmers as China and India if it doesn’t first acknowledge that the icecaps are melting and human activity is at least partly responsible?

Foreign policy isn’t my forte, but I don’t think the U.S., strong and rich as it is, can go it alone internationally. We’re obviously having no luck with Iran and North Korea. China is kicking our butt. Darfur is a crime against humanity. NATO is probably obsolete. The U.N. is basically useless. Somebody smarter than I am needs to rethink all this for a globalizing, post-Cold War planet that buzzes with terrorists.

And that’s the key point. When it comes to thinking and rethinking, the GOP seems to be on autopilot, like England’s Tories, once known (Pat Moynihan taught me) as “the stupid party.” For most of the past 30 years, Republicans were America’s smart party, the party of ideas. Conservatism was intellectually respectable, abounding in imaginative people offering fresh approaches. But where will tomorrow’s ideas come from? When the Democrats ran out of ideas and tilted toward their own extremists, some wise folks started the Democratic Leadership Council, a charter member of which was Bill Clinton, the most successful (despite his character flaws) Democratic politician of my adult life. Where is its Republican equivalent? Who will lead it? Shouldn’t we be addressing those questions before the 2008 primaries begin?

You should be, but I imagine you'll still be too busy trying to cancel abortion rights and prohibiting gays from getting hitched.

Posted by aalkon at December 2, 2006 10:25 AM

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The question is, "If he's for low taxes, strong defense and limited government, why does he want the Republican Party?"

Low taxes? Is the guy rich? That's the only way your taxes are making any significant drops, buddy. Democrats try to balance the budget, and they get vilified for raising taxes. Quite frankly, I'd rather have "tax and spend" over "spend and spend... and spend...and spend..." That's kind of how I like to run my personal life. I like to keep my debts within levels that show a reasonable expectation of being able to pay it off.

Limited government? Anyone remember a woman by the name of Terri Schiavo? How about all this intrusion into your lives, such as a woman's right to choose, and a homosexual's right to get married? Limited government, my ass. They have thrust themselves into every aspect of our private lives, all the while protesting that it's the democrats who want big government. Those would be the same democrats who felt that they had no place in the lives of Michael and Terri Schiavo, support gay rights and a woman's right to choose. Basically, they seem to be in favor of minding their own business, unlike, say, republicans.

Strong defense? This from the same government, who sent our soldiers off to fight a war on the wrong front, with inadequate equipment for the task, all the while cutting their hazardous duty pay. If our defense were any stronger, we're apt to face massive desertion.

Democrats, by contrast, led the charge to investigate the defense failures that led to 9/11 and gave us the Department of Homeland Security. What did the Bush Administration give us. Why, we have this nifty color coded threatcon levels that let us know how safe we are. Doesn't that just make you feel safe? Of course, I don't have the slightest idea of what pertinent data they're using to arrive at their threatcon levels.

And let's not forget, the Democrats won two world wars.

I'm tired of conservatives that seem to think that they're the party of small government, strong defense and fiscal responsibility. What the hell are you idiots smoking? And no, I don't want you to share it with me! I like to be grounded in reality, thanks so very much.

They are not, they never have been, and they never will be. Conservatives are about two things: pandering to the rich, and pandering to the religious. Neither one of which has the interests of the majority of Americans at heart.

Posted by: Patrick at December 2, 2006 4:24 AM

If Americans voters outside of NY and California loved gays, then the Republicans would them too. Even if Hillary Clinton were a full-on dyke in her spare time, her opposition to gay marriage would still make strategic sense to me (though she still "triangulates" back to her idiot liberal base with support for domestic partnership or some other patronizing form of Marriage Lite).

The sad truth is that a lot of folks in this country still hate us, and the party that hates us too will get their votes. I guess "Will and Grace" doesn't go over very well on Texas TV. The upside to this for us aging fag punk rockers is that we can still claim the elitist margin on the cesspool of American culture. You hate me? I hated you first! I've always hated you! Now leave me to my Proust or I'll bend over and show you my ravaged butthole!

Posted by: The Trouble with Lena at December 2, 2006 10:44 AM

"Pandering to the religious" does not have "the interests of the majority of Americans at heart"? I'm sorry, Patrick, but the majority of Americans believe that the Easter Bunny died for your sins. Pandering to the religious makes a lot of sense: It'll get you in office. Liberals need to learn that a lot more people want to get behind leaders who stand for some form of "values" (take your pick, babe, because no one owns them exclusively) rather than some wonky proposal to increase the percentage of Americans qualifying for the EITC by 35% between now and 2012. [I am stealing this rant from "Moral Politics" by George Lakoff. Please read it and rant to others.]

Posted by: Lena at December 2, 2006 11:56 AM

The majority of Americans did not agree with government intrusion into the lives of the Schiavos and the Schindlers, although the religious in this country dragged this melodrama out for months. The majority of Americans favor a woman's right to choose, but the religious tend to believe that women should be made involuntary incubators, like it or not. Some of them believe this even if a woman is impregnated against her will.

Posted by: Patrick at December 2, 2006 12:35 PM

"The majority of Americans favor a woman's right to choose, but the religious tend to believe that women should be made involuntary incubators"

Sweetheart, when you talk about the majority of Americans, you are talking about the religious. The 2 groups overlap completely. We have to get it through our thick, over-educated heads that "the people" are not on our side.

I don't think people generally act in concordance with their belief systems (hello, Catholic church molestation scandal!), so I'm not surprised that many religious people sided as they did in the Schiavo case. But the only way to campaign on the Schiavo case is to relate it to some larger ethical issue. Unfortunately, the Democratic party seems to be completely clueless about this.

Posted by: Lena at December 2, 2006 1:41 PM

Lena writes:

Sweetheart, when you talk about the majority of Americans, you are talking about the religious.

Are those who believe in outlawing abortion religious or not? Do the majority of citizens favor a woman's right to choose or not?

Are those who tried to interfere with Michael Schiavo's right to make end-of-life decisions for his wife religious or not? Did the majority of Americans support government intrusion into this affair or not?

You were saying?

Posted by: Patrick at December 2, 2006 2:14 PM

"Are those who believe in outlawing abortion religious or not? Do the majority of citizens favor a woman's right to choose or not?"

I'd bet that the majority of religious people believe in outlawing abortion. I also believe that they'd also favor "a woman's right to choose." This is not paradoxical. It all depends on how you ask the question (I assume that you're referring to some kind of survey data, which is based on questions with varying levels of bias). Framing is everything.

Posted by: Lena at December 2, 2006 2:29 PM

That's a very good point about how you ask the question. It's why people who are pro-choice can come up anti-partial-birth abortion.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 2, 2006 4:05 PM

> the cesspool of American culture.
> You hate me? I hated you first!
> I've always hated you!

Maybe it's not hatred. Maybe people just don't want gays to marry each other. It's not all about you (or me or whomever). Can't let this stuff make us grandiose....

When Sullivan says we can't go it alone, who exactly does he want us to aling with, and what will they bring to the table? When men of his, um, *sophistication* say we need to put our faith in the Chinese, it seems like lunacy.

Posted by: Crid at December 2, 2006 5:23 PM

I was clowning around there, Crid. I can't spend much time hating anyone, because it'll only make me want to drink.

Posted by: Lena, Alcoholic at December 2, 2006 9:46 PM

I said nothing about "the majority of religious people." I was pointing out to you that the religious nutcases do not make up the majority.

While the religious nutcases supported the intrusion into the lives of the Schiavos, the majority of Americans did not. While the religious nutcases would like to outlaw abortion, the majority of Americans would not.

Posted by: Patrick at December 3, 2006 8:03 AM

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