Reformed Republican conservative decries his party’s closed-minded echo chamber



In an essay in the current issue of the American Conservative magazine, Bruce Bartlett (above), a man of impeccable right-wing credentials, WRITES that the Republican Party risks “permanent loss of the White House and probably the Senate as well” if it doesn’t soon come to its senses:

I know that it’s unattractive and bad form to say “I told you so” when one’s advice was ignored yet ultimately proved correct. But in the wake of the Republican election debacle, it’s essential that conservatives undertake a clear-eyed assessment of who on their side was right and who was wrong. Those who were wrong should be purged and ignored; those who were right, especially those who inflicted maximum discomfort on movement conservatives in being right, ought to get credit for it and become regular reading for them once again.


So here we are, post-election 2012. All the stupidity and closed-mindedness that right-wingers have displayed over the last 10 years has come back to haunt them. It is now widely understood that the nation may be center-left after all, not center-right as conservatives thought. Overwhelming losses by Republicans to all the nation’s nonwhite voters have created a Democratic coalition that will govern the nation for the foreseeable future.


The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day. People will long remember Mitt Romney’s politically tone-deaf attack on half the nation’s population for being losers, leeches, and moochers because he accurately articulated the right-wing worldview.

At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure. They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris. Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.

I am disinclined to think that Republicans are yet ready for a serious questioning of their philosophy or strategy. They comfort themselves with the fact that they held the House (due to gerrymandering) and think that just improving their get-out-the-vote system and throwing a few bones to the Latino community will fix their problem. There appears to be no recognition that their defects are far, far deeper and will require serious introspection and rethinking of how Republicans can win going forward. The alternative is permanent loss of the White House and probably the Senate as well, which means they can only temporarily block Democratic initiatives and never advance their own.



  1. Luke Fredrickson

    “The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day.”

    So true, Mr. Bartlett. There was once a time when the government could dramatically stimulate the growth of an economic sector simply by getting out of the way – witness Jimmy Carter’s deregulation of the airline industry, for example.

    However, getting out of the way by slashing individual tax rates on the top 1% is not conducive to growth. All the current evidence shows that subsidizing the wealthy pays no substantial dividend to the economy as a whole. Romney is the poster boy for removing wealth from the American economic engine.

    The government needs new revenue sources to conduct the business of the country, and for the flexibility to create demand when the plutocrats sabotage us again (as they always do, in increasingly creative fashion).

    You can’t grow the economy by blindly starving the government beast. Make it a more efficient, lean, yet healthy beast for the benefit of the whole nation. And feed it fairly according to the tax levels Reagan championed.

  2. The only problem is that the beast will still be ravenous even if we restore the tax rates that Reagan championed.

  3. Craig KNAUSS

    doc, Whether you care to admit it, or like it, or not, the fact remains that some of our country’s most prosperous areas are those that benefit from substantial government spending. I have seen some of those areas and now live in one. While I do not even remotely believe that government spending is the solution to all our problems, I am constantly amused by those who live in those areas and constantly bitch about government spending. Places like Tri-Cities, WA, Idaho Falls, ID, Oak Ridge, TN, Savannah River Site, SC, Huntsville, AL, etc., etc., etc. have been essentially recession proof. And yet the residents that live in those areas, with their heads up their —es, constantly vote against their best interest and the country’s. And I bet that if Cheeseland had a major military or research facility like the Hanford Site ($2+B per year), you’d still do the same thing.

  4. shawnnews

    “People will long remember Mitt Romney’s politically tone-deaf attack on half the nation’s population for being losers, leeches, and moochers because he accurately articulated the right-wing worldview.”
    Right there is self-correction. That is the first step — someone admits this is the party’s world view without sales pitch or euphemism.

  5. Well of course they do well Craig, but we are OUT of money. I would love it if every American received a 100,000 bonus check for the holidays. Can you imagine how the economy would boom?……and then crash when nobody would loan us another red cent.

    We need to bring spending in line with the revenue we collect.

    We MUST reform entitlements.

    There is no choice.

    As one of my medical mentors used to tell me in training, we can either make the hard choices for ourselves now or wait and let somebody else make them for us, but they will be made no matter how we wish otherwise.

  6. Speaking off closed-minded republicans how about local state rep Jim Sacia. He plans on speaking out today against a bill that would allow medical marijuana in Illinois. His big fear is doctors would write prescriptions to those not sick enough to qualify. This is a real shame.

  7. Brian Opsahl

    The President has said repeatedly that the deficit is the top priority…what more can he say…now it takes some level headed republicans to work with him to fix this….and right now thats where this is at…tic / toc…………………………………

  8. His big fear is absolutely founded in fact.


    SAN FRANCISCO — Fourteen years since Californians passed the first-in-the-nation medical marijuana law, pot is not just for the sick. Hundreds of medical marijuana doctors, operating without official scrutiny, have helped make it available to nearly anyone who wants it.
    They are practicing a lucrative and thriving specialty, becoming the linchpins of a billion-dollar industry. And yet they do not have to report to whom they recommend the drug to, how many referrals they give or for what ailments.

    “There is something inappropriate about doctors being the gatekeepers,” said Timmen Cermak, president of the California Society of Addiction Medicine. “They are secretaries here … All they are doing is telling the police to keep their hands off.”

    As voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide if they want California to be the first to legalize recreational pot use and sales, the medical marijuana system they helped establish in 1996 has effectively become a legal cover to smoke pot.

    The system also stands as a cautionary example for other states crafting their own laws. Among them are Arizona and South Dakota, which have medical marijuana on Tuesday’s ballot.

    Under California’s law, medical doctors and osteopaths can recommend the drug for any illness “for which marijuana provides relief,” a category that has come to encompass conditions such as alcoholism, anxiety, asthma and insomnia.

  9. Brian Opsahl

    Have you ever tried it..!! if it kept just one drunk off the streets from driving a car drunk than yes it would be worth it…nobody has ever crashed there car from smoking pot unless they dropped it and burned themselves with it…? somethimes you need to pick your poison in life….and since my parents were both killed by a drunk driver I would choose the other…but thats just my opinion….I went to high school…?

  10. Luke Fredrickson

    That article is pure lunacy, doc. Law or no law, pot has been used recreationally for 40+ years, in CA and everywhere else. That hack writer makes it sound like 15 years ago, pot was not “available to anyone who wants it.” All that has changed is which ridiculous law is being flouted.

  11. Craig KNAUSS


    Yes the locals are doing well. And not just the ones who are working well-paid jobs at Hanford, other DOE sites, DoD sites, NASA, etc. Our locals also get crop supports from Dept. of Agriculture so they can drive new Mercedes and BMW SUVs (while I drive an 11 y.o. Dodge Stratus). And they get subsidized electricity (~$0.04/kWh) from the Bonneville Power Authority (while I was paying at least $0.135/kWh for my electricity in Illinois). And they get subsidized irrigation water from Bureau of Reclamation (which nobody got back in the Midwest), etc.

    So, I agree, doc, let’s reform the entitlements. ALL OF THEM. Then let the whining begin.

  12. Brian Opsahl

    Craig …you da man..!! …besides now that Hostess is closeing what are all those stoners going to eat…Dude..!! lol

  13. Sounds like you and I agree Craig.

  14. Doc i don’t disagree that people will get prescriptions that may not need it. I still don’t see that as a solid reason to deny the people that actual need the prescriptions. Not like these same people are not already smoking marijuana. They would be looking for a prescription to avoid issues with the law.

    Prescriptions pills are a far bigger problem in this country then marijuana. People OD daily on prescriptions pills. You don’t see Sacia saying we need to ban prescriptions pills because people are getting them that don’t need them. If he was so worried about our health, his attention would be aimed at the drugs doing the most damage to this country. Prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma now cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. That is a fact. But our elected officials want to focus on marijuana, a drug that kills no one. Why is this?

  15. Marijuana will be legalized and distributed/taxed by the federal government within 5 years.

    I agree with you about prescription pain pills, particularly oxycontin. But if you think the government is doing nothing about that problem, you would be wrong. It is a frequent topic of conversation amongst physicians that I interact with daily.

    Here is an entire series of stories about the issue from my local paper. Quite an intersting series if I do say so myself. Pretty well done and balanced.


  16. Stirling West

    Mr. Bartlett’s comments are the sound of sweet reason to my ears. I have watched a faction of the conservatives paint their party into an ever diminishing corner with no way out save a fundamental attitude change. It is indeed a sorry sight to behold a party that has so many of the correct answers hijacked by absolutists who will not, or cannot, understand the way the world is changing. Once they’ve blamed the stars and everything else for their predicament they will eventually come to look at themselves, but by that time the Democrats will have so solidified their gains that the intransigent right will be mentioned in the “also ran” category. More please Mr. Bartlett, more.

  17. Brian Opsahl

    Most republicans have NOT and will NOT get the message from the rest of us that the plans they had for us were NOT good for everybody they only want certain folks in there party then exclude all the rest with zeal,and disdain. The Rush Lintballs and Fox Obama haters are whats wrong with that party and if they do not change and get away from these types the Democrats will dominate several elections going forword….watch and see..!!

  18. OK – we need to cut spending!!! Lets do it- the Pentagon has so much incredible waste that we all ignore- why do we do that? Also, What about the corporate welfare?? Or the oil company empire surpluses???? Lets talk about all of the corporations that DEPEND on the government ( our. taxes)
    To pad their way to success- what happened to free interprise?? So, we in the US privatize profits and socialize losses??? We as Americans have been burned by the Repubs were done- no more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *