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How the Republicans Killed their Moderates

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There is an interesting article in the most recent issue of The New Republic about the victory of the conservatives in taking over the Republican Party. It details the more than fifty year battle between the Eastern "Establishment" wing of the party, dominated at one time by men such as Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney, and the Goldwater-Reagan wing. It describes how the conservatives were successful because of the passion and anger of their members, and how Richard Nixon left the Establishment wing when he became President and joined the conservative wing by bringing in the old Southern, segregationist wing of the Democratic Party. It is now the children of the old segregationist Democrats who dominate the Republican Party in conjunction with the less educated and more working class Republicans who respond more to resentment-politics. The article details how the conservatives responded to Obama's attempts at bipartisan compromise with implacable refusals to accept anything other that one hundred percent of their demands and how anyone who believed in traditional bipartisan compromise has been forced out of the party. Anger and resentment are the emotions of the increasingly radical Republican Party and moderates and even those conservatives who aren't motivated by anger and resentment are accused of being socialists and liberals. It is an illuminating and frightening article by a former moderate Republican who is reviewing two books by once moderate Republicans, David Frum and Geoffrey Kabaservice. Frum is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush and the primary author of the "Axis of Evil" speech. How frightening when someone like even David Frum isn't conservative enough for the Politics of Resentment."


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I admire the phrase 'resentment politics' for its accuracy and its characterization of the southern Republicans who surround me here in Virginia. So much of politics here, both local and national, is deeply embedded in past history and lingering resentments still stemming from the 1860's. Any perceived revenge that is possible to achieve over the East Coast establishment and "Yankee" ideas is pursued. I, too, commend this article for its insight into revenge politics.

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The politics of anger certainly works. It's worked here in deminishing the more cerebral elements of the Republican Party, and it's worked in the Mid-East where its advocates don't stop and shouting at opponents, they bomb and maim them.

At odd moments, certainly crazy ones, I fear that's the way politics are going here. Certainly crazy, no?


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Good article, but in his defense, I don't think Geoff Kabaservice has ever identified himself as a Republican, present or former. He's been an independent researcher of political history.


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To be fair, you have to admit that both parties have done an admirable job of alienating their moderate wing.

Pro-life democrats were given the hook and Dixie-crats were no where to be seen at the DNC. Gay republicans and libertarians were practically blackballed at the RNC.

It's like both parties are actively trying to balkanize the elements within that are most likely to look for or reach a compromise.

Net result is that both parties are more and more polarized.

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