The Myth of the Republican Civil War


The primary reason for this is that there already has been a civil war in the Republican Party; and the far right won. The situation in the Republican Party today is very different than at various points in the 20th century when liberal or moderate Republicans fought with right wing for control of the party. Today, there is no battle between the moderate and far right wing of the Republican Party. That fight ended years ago with the moderates losing. Although there may be a small handful of centrist Republicans remaining in the party, they do not have a lot of power and move quickly to the right as they become national figures. The most recent obvious example of that was Mitt Romney who had governed Massachusetts as a moderate, but ran for president as a unapologetic conservative. Even people like Chris Christie who are said to represent the moderate wing of the party are, in many respects, conservatives who either have had to govern or who come from the northeast.

Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff, but Not the Steady Decline

Although it is probably good news that congress and President Obama managed to start the New Year by avoiding going over the fiscal cliff, it is hard not to get a sense that, now that we have avoided that, we can go back to the steady decline that has characterized our economy in recent years. Moreover, while avoiding the fiscal cliff is evidence that our elected officials are not completely unable to work together or govern, there is still reason to believe that congress is not capable of governing the country in a serious way or of addressing any of the myriad problems facing the U.S.

Obama's Elitism, Republican Principled Ignorance and the Debt Ceiling Debate

Although many come from more privileged backgrounds than the president, the Republicans in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, cannot be accused of being elitists. On the contrary, they are contemptuous of formal education and wear their ignorance of the world and the economy as almost badge of honor. The contrast between the House Republican outlook and that of the president is extreme and playing itself out over the debt ceiling negotiations in a dire manner. Where President Obama, based on his negotiating strategy, sees a troubled but complex economy and recognizes the reality that failing to extend the debt ceiling would be a devastating mistake, the House Republicans see another opportunity to bang the anti-tax drum while continuing to live in an economic fantasy world where they can cut taxes and balance the budget either by magic or, failing that, by eviscerating what is left of the American economy and social fabric.

Back to the Nineties with Newt

Before there was Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Scott Walker or any of the other current radical conservatives seeking the national spotlight and perhaps the Republican nomination for president, there was Newt Gingrich. The recent boomlet around a potential presidential bid by the aging right wing revolutionary feels like a strange hybrid of the unique quirkiness that has always been part of Gingrich with nostalgia for the 1990s. Next thing you know, we'll be talking about impeaching a Democratic president and shutting down the government. Maybe the 1990s really are back.

What Olympia Snow's Support Could Mean

The decision by Senator Olympia Snowe to support the health care bill in the senate finance committeeon which Senator Snowe sits is good news, but it may not turn out to be a turning point towards getting meaningful health care reform. Snowe's vote gave the bill a solid 14-9 majority in committee. Snowe's vote helped the bill out of committee and gave a bipartisan facade to what was otherwise a party line vote. There is still a long way to go, however, between this vote and real health care reform.