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.

The Shutdown is No Longer Only a Domestic Issue

In the very big picture, the shutdown is a reminder that the US is no longer the dominant global hegemon to whom the rules and limitations facing other countries do not apply. It turns out the US also can be hamstrung by institutions and structures and that ideological fanaticism can damage the country's economy and global standing. The irony, or perhaps tragedy is a better word, is that the same faction who is crippling our government today, will be screaming about American exceptionalism tomorrow.