The Republican agenda is becoming more severely conservative, not less so
All of that supposed soul-searching by Republicans in the wake of their losses in the November elections has not resulted in any discernible moderation.
Quite the contrary seems to be the case, as Tim Dickinson EXPLAINS:
After watching voters punish the GOP in the 2012 elections, Republican elites have been talking a brave game about reforms that would make the party less repulsive to Latinos, women and gay-friendly millennials. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the GOP’s hip-hop-quoting young standard-bearer, is pressing conservatives to back an amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Dozens of party stalwarts, headlined by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, renounced their opposition to gay marriage in a Supreme Court brief. GOP bigwigs have even launched New Republican – a group modeled after Bill Clinton’s centrist Democratic Leadership Council – which seeks to rebrand the party as “colorblind,” “not anti-government” and dedicated to “ending corporate welfare.”
Don’t be fooled. On the ground, a very different reality is unfolding: In the Republican-led Congress, GOP-dominated statehouses and even before the nation’s highest court, the reactionary impulses of the Republican Party appear unbowed. Across the nation, the GOP’s severely conservative agenda – which seeks to impose job-killing austerity, to roll back voting and reproductive rights, to deprive the working poor of health care, and to destroy agencies that protect the environment from industry and consumers from predatory banks – is moving forward under full steam.
The hardcore rump of the party is even working to punish moderate outliers like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – the party’s most popular leader – who was denied a speaking role at the conservative movement’s annual convention, CPAC. Today’s GOP may desperately need to remake itself as “culturally modern, environmentally responsible and economically inclusive,” argues David Frum, a veteran of the George W. Bush White House, but it remains, he says, in the throes of a “Tea Party tantrum.”
As it works to lock in as many retrograde policies as possible before it finally chooses to either modernize or die, the Republican Party is like a wounded beast: Rarely has it been more dangerous.
If this is the “new” Republican party, it looks even more radical than your father’s, or even your grandfather’s. A leading new face on the party’s right flank – Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas – recalls a famous 1950s Republican right down to the crook in his nose. Channeling Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Cruz has declared Barack Obama to be “the most radical” president in our history, adding that Obama was educated at Harvard Law School by “Marxists” who, Cruz insists, “believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
It may be tempting to believe that danger posed by the GOP’s lunatic fringe is cabined off in the House and the states of the Great Flyover. But 2014 is already looming, and vulnerable Democrats will be contesting Senate seats in red states from Alaska to Arkansas and Louisiana to South Dakota, as well as in hotly contested battlegrounds like Virginia and North Carolina. Flip just six seats, and the GOP will control Congress – and set the agenda of the last two years of the Obama administration. Here’s hoping that when the next wave of Todd Akins or Richard Mourdocks charge onto the scene – mouthing off about “legitimate rape” or the latest Tea Party cause célèbre, that the American body politic has the good sense to shut that whole thing down.