The Republican Crisis (and the Nation’s)

Richard Fernandez, who writes as Belmont Club at PJMedia, has a good entry on the current state of the Republican Party. He riffs on Angelo Codevilla’s fine recent essay As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions Of Voters Are Orphaned, and adds to it his thoughts on the recent Rove-Gingrich exchange.

Richard notes that the Democrats “have been the party of income transfers for a long time. Their political genius has been to define the beneficiaries to include themselves and all their constituents.”

Now the Republican establishment wants to be:

[T]he party of ‘me too’. Or more accurately, ‘me next’. The complete emptiness of what has come to be known as the “stupid party’s” opportunism was described by Newt Gingrich in his denunciation of Karl Rove recently. Gingrich argued that Republican political strategy simply amounted to ‘paying Rove do the lying while pretending to stand for anything’ — in other words, shut up and let Rove win it — then  take your turn at the swill trough and be generous.

Richard quotes Newt’s point on the absurdity of Rove’s focus on the Senate races in Missouri and Indiana:

Republicans lost winnable senate races in Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. So in seven of the nine losing races, the Rove model has no candidate-based explanation for failure. Our problems are deeper and more complex than candidates. . . . Handing millions to Washington based consultants to destroy the candidates they dislike and nominate the candidates they do like is an invitation to cronyism, favoritism and corruption.

and adds:

Gingrich is right, but he is in fact late to the party. The idea that fightback would have to begin with taking back the parties — was begun earlier. One of those who adopted this insurgent, attack from the primaries strategy is well known to the Belmont Club: Leo Linbeck III.  He is at least partially referenced in Codevilla’s new essay . . . .

Richard also reinforces a point made in Codevilla’s piece, that “The establishment candidates who have survived dissident challenges have seldom done it through sheer cash, but rather by fuzzing the differences between themselves and the dissidents.”

The Democrats have their own problems, though. In Margaret Thatcher’s classic phrase, “sooner or later [socialists] run out of other people’s money,” or, as Richard says: “The Democrats are embroiled in their own revolt as people wait for the payoff that never comes; the access that doesn’t quite materialize, the big slice from the disappearing pie.”

In other words, the Democrats’ multiple constituencies have become so self-righteously greedy that they are indifferent to the destruction of the productive system that subsides them. Eventually, as the pie shrinks, their needs (or what they see as their rights) must come into conflict. The current inability of the political system to contemplate any spending reductions shows the Democrats’ dilemma. They have repealed the old maxim “To govern is to choose.”

The major question at the moment is whether the Democratic interest groups are so ignorant that they incapable of understanding the implications of their interest-group-based political philosophy. We can only hope not, which means it is the job of conservatives to explain it to them convincingly.

We cannot build a political party on the hope that we can outbid the Democrats by multiplying special interest favors. We must convince the special interests that most of them must lose a game that destroys long term productivity and stability in the hopes of short-term payoffs.

This is not an easy task, and it is made harder by the ruthless Alinskyite skill with which the Left attacks everyone (especially Palin) who presents the truth. Despite the attacks, I think Palin may well be the most important politician in the nation precisely because she is trusted to tell the truth as she sees it, without triangulating about how it might help come crony.

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Author: "Ending 'Big SIS' (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic" (2012) [] and "Property Matters--How Property Rights Are Under Assault and Why You Should Care" (1997). Some former jobs: Assistant Director of Consumer Protection in FTC; member of the Program Analysis Staff of the US Bureau of the Budget; Research Director of the Administrative Conference of the United States; Director of IPCentral at the Progress & Freedom Foundation; VP & GC of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest. Graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, former Book Review Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

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