Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Change Seen By An Old GOP Pol

So much has been written and aired about what's wrong with the Republican Party that I figured, what the hell, maybe former Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee, writing an op-ed piece in Tuesday's Washington Post, would put his finger on it.

I was shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

"Things change because things change, not because of any ideological primacy or purity on a particular end of the political spectrum," Baker writes.

The depth of his perception is as deep as a 90-pound jackhammer bouncing off a slab of concrete.

But, there's more from the old sage:

The core Republican beliefs in less government, lower taxes, more liberty and greater security in a dangerous world united people as different as Mark Hatfield and Jesse Helms during my years as leader of the Senate. Those same beliefs carried Ronald Reagan into the White House in 1980 and 1984. Those beliefs still have power today. And if the American people perceive overreaching or underachieving in the Obama administration and among its allies in Congress, the Republican way may prove very attractive again in very short order.

As a historian, Baker is dead on.

But as we move towards the second decade of the 2000 millennium the Republicans are losing their grip on reality and their constituencies by clinging to the past. They are a rudderless ocean liner without a captain afloat in a sea of confluent currents.

The party's demographic power rests in the South and a handful of mountain states. Right-wing intolerant conservatives rule and shout down the more moderate and independent voices.

Republican Congressmen are now members of the Party Of No. In the Senate, Jeffery Sessions was handed the minority chairmanship of the Judicial Committee. The former federal prosecutor from Alabama was denied a judgeship in the 1980s because he was deemed a racial bigot.

The current environment is pervasive even for a Republican with brains and charm to gain a foothold in party ranks unless he cowers to conservative doctrines.

The thing is, the demographics of America have changed from the days of Howard Baker and Ronald Reagan. Voices never before heard now spring loudly from Hispanic, black, women, gays and other minorities. In a few short generations, some of these minorities will be the majority voice. And the Republicans are doing little to attract them into their tent.

A political party is not viable unless it wins elections. A two-party system works only if both are competitive. As of now, the Republicans are not.

I don't mean to bash conservatives as the root of all evil. They are just as important to the Republican base as left-wing liberals are to the Democratic Party.

Maybe I give the Republicans too much credit. They're great and fun to watch as a minority party. Their current crop just can't govern worth a damn.

And remember Howard Baker's downplay of "ideological primacy or purity." I take that as a shot across the bow of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and all the others of his ilk.

I could be wrong.

1 comment:

Juan Zuniga said...

Jerry --

Interesting comments from James Baker here..."more liberty and greater security in a dangerous world". Didn't anybody notice that GWB lessened liberty in his 8 years. Wire taps, domestic spying, etc. HIs excuse was more security and national defense. Who was it that said "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." hhhhmmmm Mayeb GWB should have listened to Old Ben.