Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Best Critique of the Republicans....Ever

Thanks to an IPad app called "Zite," I came across a long piece on the modern Republican Party written by a former Republican Senate staffer that was posted on the Truth-Out site.  The particular post, entitled Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, is simply the best, most insightful, most comprehensive and most damning critique I have ever read of today's Republican Party.  Written by recently retired Mike Lofgren, a former Senate Budget Committee staffer, it systematically identifies and explains every major element of the party's current agenda.  But the real power of the piece comes from his revelation of the motivations behind these agenda items, the strategies that drive them and why they have been so effective politically.  On the one hand, I am exhilarated by the power of the piece.  On the other hand, I am profoundly depressed with the story it tells and what it portends for the future. His critique of the Democrats is also well targeted, but finds them more guilty of fecklessness than the outright evil he ascribes to the Republicans.  In the end, sadly, there simply seems to be now way out of the downward spiral that the new Republicans have set in motion. 

The following are some key clips, but it is really worth reading the entire 6,000 word post:

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy....

....The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a "high functioning" institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights....
....Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"
A Pox...
....This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends.
And on an on.  Again, read the whole thing.  It's worth it.

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