The Republicans we need

Really enjoyed Nicholas Kristof’s column earlier this week:

Just as deer populations need wolves or cougars to keep them healthy, Democrats benefit from predatory Republicans.

America needs a robust center-right party to hold progressives like me accountable. Cities and states run by a single party slide toward poor governance, and conservatives are essential to push back at flabby thinking on the left — like California’s Proposition 10, a populist rent control proposal that might backfire and magnify homelessness.

Unfortunately, the principled version of the Republican Party in Congress has virtually collapsed, a crisis compounded by the death of Senator John McCain. Republican leaders in Congress actively resist providing congressional oversight and are no more than the president’s poodles.

Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party, but as a national institution the Republican Party is hollow. It is no longer about an ideology; it’s about shining President Trump’s shoes. And that is the fundamental issue hanging over the midterm elections.

Yes!  I love this metaphor.  As I’ve written many times, I want a healthy, robust, thoughtful Republican party that advances smart, good-faith arguments for more individual rights, less government regulation, and meaningful respect for more traditional values.  I don’t want the Republican version of these things, but I think the more liberal version will end up being better for a thoughtful, good-faith debate.  Alas, the current Republican party is soooo far from this.  Kristof’s column continues on to catalog the many failings.  This is just not good for Republicans, Democrats, or our democracy.

My one objection to Kristof is, “Sure, there are still many principled individuals within the party.”  Ummm, no.  If he means elite NeverTrump pundits, they are hardly “within the party.”  The party is characterized by either authoritarian ethno-nationalists or cowards who refuse to stand up to them for fear of losing their own power.  The latter do not count as “principled” in my book.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to The Republicans we need

  1. Nicole K. says:

    Yep. I want a GOP more in the mold of Richard Nixon (minus the persecution complex that resulted in his downfall). Remember, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was an architect of his domestic agenda. He was not opposed to regulation when it was necessary and supported maintaining an adequate safety net for those who needed it. Nixon was a master of telling the conservative base what it wanted to hear, but then moving forward with more pragmatic policies that included bipartisan compromise.

    To a certain extent Reagan did that as well. After supply-side hard right policies did not work early in his first term, his administration chose to work with Tip O’Neil to pass tax reform and gave up trying to destroy the administrative state by “bleeding the beast.” He also paid lip-service to the social conservatives by saying what they wanted to hear but not translating that into concrete policies and legislation. However, his unwillingness to address the Aids epidemic, which was largely because its victims were people that many social conservatives hated and believed were getting what they deserved, is a tragic exception that delayed the discovery of protease inhibitors and led to the deaths of more than 40,000 thousand gay men, hemophiliacs, and IV drug users.

    So I’m all for a GOP in the mold of Nixon and George H. W. Bush. I prefer market-based solutions where they work and are regulated effectively. But that’s not the agenda of today’s GOP.

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