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Insanity In The GOP – Is It Really The Democrats’ Fault?

May 2, 2012

It’s been building for years, but most observers would agree that the fringier fringe of the Republican Party plunged off the deep end around the time Barack Obama took the White House. One has to wonder why this preponderance of sheer insanity has gripped the GOP. I’m thinking it could be the Democrats’ fault. Follow my logic…

If you’re going to represent the extreme right of the party, where do you go when the mainstream of the party has moved into what used to be the fringe? The bulk of the Republican Party now denies climate change (something they acknowledged a few short years ago.) Heck, for that matter, the norm in the party is now to deny science of any kind. And it’s not just science. Not too many years ago, the patron saint of the GOP, Ronald Reagan, implemented things like amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and tax increases — even engagement with Europe!  Today, these positions are anathema to Republicans.

What went so terribly wrong? Did the Republican Party move further and further right? Or were they pushed? The thing is, at the same time the GOP moved inexorably to the right, so did the Democratic Party. The center-right, which used to be populated by semi-reasonable Republicans is now the exclusive domain of “moderate” Democrats.

For proof, you need only look at the extremists in each party. In the GOP, to be labeled extreme, you’ve got to be advocating for the repeal of the 14th and the 17th Amendments and be prepared to openly question the passage of the Civil Rights Act, maybe even Women’s suffrage. Meanwhile, in the Democratic party, a “radical” is someone who believes that any cuts in Social Security benefits is a non-starter and that worker protections aren’t negotiable.

I’m not saying the Democrats made a concerted effort to push the GOP entirely out of the center and into extremism. I don’t believe they could ever be that disciplined. Still, the shift in the political landscape happened. Was it the chicken or the egg? Did the Republicans lead everyone right, or did the Democrats push? We may never know.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2012 11:37 am

    The radical reactionary movement pushed both.

  2. May 2, 2012 11:35 am

    Sandi, I beg you to forgive the inherent self-promotion (but I am Nixon after all). I recently addressed this very subject, here: (link is to my journals; it’s safe). I came down on the side of the of the Democratic party’s rightward drift forcing the Republicans ever rightward themselves to maintain the sharp distinction between the parties.

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