GOP — It’s Not Me, It’s You

Sometimes I wonder if I exaggerate how extreme and insane the GOP has become.  Then I find something like “Let’s just say it:  the Republicans are the problem,” in which one of the co-authors is from the super-conservative American Enterprise Institute.*  So I’m reminded and reassured that when it comes to the GOP, it’s not me, it’s them:

“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional.  In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted.  Today, however, we have no choice by to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics.  It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

“When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.

“But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names:  Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

“But the forces Gingrich unleashed destroyed whatever comity existed across party lines, activated an extreme and virulently anti-Washington base — most recently represented by tea party activists — and helped drive moderate Republicans out of Congress.

“Norquist, meanwhile, founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985 and rolled out his Taxpayer Protection Pledge the following year.  The pledge, which binds its signers to never support a tax increase (that includes closing tax loopholes) had been signed as of last year by 238 of the 242 House Republicans and 41 of the 47 GOP senators, according to ATR.

“We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story.  But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.

“If they [voters] can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center.  Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better.”  Emphasis added.

* Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, WaPo

No Escaping Paternalism This Election

The Democratic party has the reputation as the paternalistic party — the big government party that seeks to control more of your life and make decisions for you because they know best.

The Republican party tries to present itself as an alternative to paternalism, as the small-government party that trusts you to make more decisions and have more freedom.  But their all-but-certain nominee Mitt displays an arrogance and lack of respect for our intelligence that comes across as paternalism — he’s smart and rich and successful, so he knows better than we do what we need, and he will make the decisions for us.

If we’re so smart, then why don’t we have $250 million and accounts in the Cayman Islands and an oceanfront estate in La Jolla.  I would suggest that many of us don’t have his net worth not because we lack his intelligence or willingness to work hard, but because we lack his ruthlessness and don’t want to destroy companies and fire people, and also because we weren’t born on third base as he was as George Romney’s son, which opened doors for him when he started his career.

In his campaign appearances and interviews, Mitt condescends to us, offering simplistic explanations, very much the father figure.  He’s Ward Cleaver, and we’re Wally and the Beaver.  And we know he thinks June belongs in the kitchen or vacuuming in pearls and heels.

I wonder if this is one reason why Mitt’s unfavorables are so high among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents.  These are folks who reject Dem paternalism, but can’t escape it with Mitt.