Reponse to a Comment
Ken Miller takes legitimate issue with my use of the phrase “True Republicans” in the two posts (so far) dealing with the origins and development of the Cult of Personality that has built up around Bush. I was going to answer in Comments, but the Haloscan program has a limit that forced me to cut my response into little pieces, which is annoying. However, since Ken’s comment may well reflect a more general response, I thought it would be appropriate to put both his comment and my answer here, so that they could be seen in their totality by anyone who has read the posts.
Here’s Ken’s original comment:
I enjoyed reading your essay here and enjoy your comments on ChristopherLydon.org.I reject your use of the term “True Republicans”. Bush reflects the philosophy and platform of the Texas Republican Party which includes planks to: withdraw from the UN, cancel all UN treaties; abolish the IRS and replace the income tax with a sales tax and return to the gold standard. These are not “True Republican” policies–they are extreme right wing ideas that suggest their authors have not been to college.
I am concerned about Bush lies and will not vote for Bush because of them. But we have to remember, Lyndon Johnson lied, Nixon lied, Reagan lied and Clinton lied.
By the way, who would you consider to be a “True Democrat”:
John F. Kennedy
Kenneth William Miller II
Here’s my response, uncut:
Ken Miller says, “I reject your use of the term ‘True Republicans’.”Would you prefer “Root Republicans”?
The point I was trying to make was that Neiwert’s idea that the current crop of Republican radicals are some kind of aberration just isn’t accurate. They–and yes, the Texas Republican Party that spawned them–are overt expressions of fundamental Republican values that have been covert since the 20′s. All that’s happening now is the re-emergence of those fundamental values into the open.
Until Nixon–and even for a while after, though with reservations–I, too, thought that the Republican Party had matured in the Depression just as the Democratic Party had. I thought that the Republican Party had moderated if not abandoned its extremes and were representing an important point of view from rational and defendable, even admirable, core beliefs around the protection of individual initiatives and choice, fiscal responsibility, finding a balance between the needs of business and the needs of society as a whole, and smart, careful foreign policies. I often disagreed with them about specifics, but even then I thought their perspective was valid and important to hear. I voted for people like Ed Brooke, Sargeant and Weld in Mass and Lowell Weicker in Conn, and would cheerfully have voted for people like Arlen Specter, Bob Michel, Warren Rudman and Henry Hyde (prior to the Impeachment idiocy) had I lived in those states. I was enormously proud of the fortitude, honesty, and courage of moderate Republicans like Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings. They stuck by their principles and refused to play the partisan game: what Nixon had done was wrong, and they weren’t going to pretend it was right or defend it just because he happened to be in their own party.
But what has become clear over the past 25 years is that I–and others, including moderate Republicans themselves–were just plain wrong, fooled by a moderate Republican bubble that was a defensive response to FDR’s coalition, not a legitimate maturation. Personally, what proved that to me was Henry Hyde’s shameful performance during the Impeachment hearings. I had been a big fan of Hyde’s before that. I believed that he was a man who put the country’s interests above his own when necessary, that he had enormous integrity, admirable principles, and a strength of character second to none. To watch him turn into nothing more than another political hack at the behest of whacko extremists like Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay was a gut-wrenching experience for me. I still haven’t gotten over it. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach by a mule. That was the moment when I realized–or more accurately perhaps, accepted what I had been in the process of realizing since Reagan: that the Republicans of the Robber Barons were back, in force, and that moderates were going to lose all influence in the party; if they didn’t knuckle under as Hyde had done, they’d be out. Like Jeffords, like Weld, like Weicker, like dozens of others. The Barbarians were past the gate: they had invaded the city and were now in charge. And the moderates had let it happen; they hadn’t even put up the shadow of a fight to protect what they had believed and built since Eisenhower.
In retrospect, it’s now clear that the extremists have always been there, waiting and plotting for their chance to take over again, and that the moderates were never able to amount to more than cover for them. There are lots of good people, moderates, left in the Republican Party, but they have little or no national influence and, frankly, if they don’t resist the onslaught of the Barbarians with more fortitude than they’ve shown so far, their days are numbered; they will be eliminated one-by-one as the Barbarians solidify their hold and replace them with extremists. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.
The moderates can still stop the extremists–contrary to appearances, they outnumber extremists in the Congress and in the local party machinery–but so far, although there have been rumblings of protest, they’ve largely come to nothing. The extremists have to be challenged within the party, and they’re not, nor is there any sign that they will be. Not yet, anyway. I live for the day when Henry Hyde will find his balls again, stand up on the floor of the House, and say what you just said–that the Bushies are extremists who represent the whackos of the Texas Republican Party, not the vast majority of moderate national Republicans. I live for it, but I don’t expect it to happen. And as long as the moderates are willing to let the extremists call the shots and run the show, I can’t give them respect and I won’t give them support.
“I am concerned about Bush lies and will not vote for Bush because of them. But we have to remember, Lyndon Johnson lied, Nixon lied, Reagan lied and Clinton lied.”
Yes, but to protect this or that program, initiative, or policy. Bush is the first since Nixon to use lies as an everyday tactic, and even Nixon told the truth occasionally. Bush hasn’t told the truth about ANYTHING at any time, before or after his (s)election. His speeches are chains of platitudes laced with lies and his programs have Orwellian DoubleSpeak names that mean the opposite of what the programs are actually intended to do. It’s almost pathological.
As for who I would consider a “True Democrat”, it depends what you mean. There are 2 distinct and quite different source groups–before and after FDR.
If you mean in the same sense that I was using “True Republicans”, ie, those who represent the original Democratic template, then I would have to point out that the Democratic Party was created in the shape it would maintain for most of the next century in the early 1800′s as a party that existed to defend slavery. By that definition, the last True Democrat was probably George Wallace, altho Zell Miller sometimes comes awfully close.
If you mean in the current sense of “Democrat”–the post-Rooseveltian paradigm the party has maintained for the past 60 years as the party of the working class and the disadvantaged–then I would probably choose Adlai Stevenson, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, and/or Lyndon Johnson.
Further comments are certainly welcome,. but be aware that the program limit is 1000 characters (roughly, 2 long paragraphs).
Hardly suitable for a long-winded SOB like me….