(Un)civil war in the GOP

Wayne LaPierre’s unhinged speech at this year’s CPAC gathering, followed the next day by a Trump speech only slightly more grounded in reality, appears to have been a sort of tipping point for those Republicans who hoped the GOP could someday be restored to sanity or, at least, ordinary human decency. I think the sane wing of the party have figured-out that what used to be the lunatic fringe now is the Republican Party, and the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, the Gipper, is irretrievably gone.

Mona Charen was once a writer at National Review, a speechwriter for Nancy Reagan, a staffer in Ronald Reagan’s White House, and a speechwriter for Jack Kemp; by any sane reckoning, her conservative bona fides are in good order. She was booed violently for saying that Republicans shouldn’t turn a blind eye toward the predatory sexual conduct of such as Roy Moore and The Donald, and convention security was made so uneasy by it that they insisted upon escorting her when she left the stage. She writes about the experience at the New York Times.

I’d been dreading it [her CPAC speech] for days, but when it came, I almost welcomed it. There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability.

I spoke to a hostile audience for the sake of every person who has watched this spectacle of mendacity in disbelief and misery for the past two years.

The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne has seen enough, too.

It is time to read last rites over the American conservative movement. After years of drifting steadily toward extreme positions, conservatism is dead, replaced by a far right that has the Republican Party under its thumb.

[ … ]

The movement toward extremism has been gradual, so it has not been sufficiently acknowledged. But if those who still believe in moderation don’t face up to it now, they will be complicit in the far right’s ascendancy.

And Max Boot:

I spent years writing for conservative publications such as the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Commentary magazine and working as a foreign policy adviser for three Republican presidential campaigns. Being conservative used to be central to my identity. But now, frankly, I don’t give a damn.

[ … ]

The career of Dinesh D’Souza is indicative of the downward trajectory of conservatism. He made his name with a well-regarded 1991 book denouncing political correctness and championing liberal education. Then he wrote a widely panned 1995 book claiming that racism was no more, and it was all downhill from there. In 2014 he pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws.

[ … ]

If this is what mainstream conservatism has become — and it is — count me out.

Years ago, noting how the party is structured and that the loonies had seized control of the party at the precinct level, I hazarded the guess that it would not be possible for responsible national-level leaders to drive-out the crazies. What do you know? The same bottom-up strategy that destroyed the Southern Baptist Convention was deployed to seize control of the GOP (by a lot of the same names and faces, incidentally) — with the same result: The brand is ruined, and all that is left are the loonies.

I don’t believe the GOP can be restored to health or, more importantly, that a winning percentage of Americans will ever trust them again, for the simple reason that the base is so steeped in malice and conspiracies and Christian Nationalism that they lack, as Robert Burns put it, “the gift to see ourselves as others see us.” They know they’re outcasts, that a solid majority of their fellow citizens recoil from them in disgust, but they don’t know it’s because they’re crazy and destructive. No. They think it’s because they’re Righteous.

America needs two healthy parties, a yin and a yang to oppose and balance each other — and there has not been a conservative party for years. Ambitious conservatives — John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Lindsay Graham, add your names here: _____ — need to organize a third, soon second, party.

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