Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tea Party Fundamentalism and the Ruination of the GOP

As the CPAC Convention comes to a close, it is also clear that Republican thought has come to be closed too. If CPAC is an expression of conservative thought in the Party I once called home, I can only say that it will still be a while before I can return.

I do not begrudge conservative thought, and even though I consider myself a progressive Republican I certainly have much in common with my conservative brethren and their true conservative views. But what I was able to witness of the Convention through the media left me thinking that today’s conservative leaders demonstrate so little intellectual rigor and so little willingness to even acknowledge the legitimacy of other views that it is clear that the Republican Party has been coopted by the Tea Party, a narrow minded, self-righteous, fundamentalist group that has a poor understanding of our founding, poorly interprets the past, is paranoid about our present, and is unwilling to negotiate for a better future. If these are the people that have been deemed our Party’s intellectual leaders, the GOP might as well stand for the Greatly Offensive Party, or the Growing Obscure Party, or the Grimy Odiferous Party.
When I think of the Republican Party, I think of the party that gave us Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisonhower, Reagan, and even Nixon on his better days. Who would Tea Partiers look to as their model president? Frankly, none of these men would, based on their policies, be acceptable leaders.

Tea Partiers masquerade as conservatives when they are in fact Reactionaries; it is analogous on the Left to Radicals masquerading as liberals. My problem was Tea Partiers goes beyond substantive differences and this is really where my true sadness for the future of the Party resides. Radicals and Reactionaries share a basic fundamentalist contempt for true discourse that makes them eerily similar to the Taliban, absent the stonings and dismemberments, though….
Tea Partiers would be more at home in a society where they could rule as dictators; at the very least they belong in a parliamentary, unitary system where they would stand a better chance of governing without the need to compromise, where they could scoff at dissent.

I wish the Tea Party would in fact form their own political party rather than wreak havoc on my Republican Party. The complete disrespect they show for our democratic process is both ironic and destructive, and it serves to not only destroy the essence of governance but the legitimacy of our institutions in the eyes of the average citizen. Their ascendency, like most else that is wrong with our political culture, was foreseen by Mancur Olsen, the late political economist whose work demands our attention. His work presents a picture of our democracy that is eerily prescient; the future he predicted is coming true, and I hope someone out there will take notice before it’s too late.


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