Tag Archives: Ben Bernanke

I Think I’ve Heard This Song Before…

Hell, I’ve sung this song!

There has been a steady exodus of former national GOP officials out of the party. Bruce Bartlett, Norman Ornstein, Lawrence Wilkerson… plus a host of far less prominent folks. And then there are the bewildered, reasonable Republicans who are still trying to work within the party for a return to its formerly responsible conservatism.

Now, it’s Ben Bernanke.

You will recall that Bernanke was chosen by the Republican White House to chair the Federal Reserve after  Alan Greenspan left. He had formerly headed up George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Bernanke has now published a book, “The Courage to Act,” detailing his experiences and defending the Fed’s performance during the Great Recession. In the book, Bernanke explained his growing disappointment with the GOP.

“I tried to listen carefully and accept thoughtful criticisms,” Bernanke wrote. “But it seemed to me that the crisis had helped to radicalize large parts of the Republican Party.”

 Though Bernanke isn’t ready to side with Democrats, he no longer associates with his former party. He “lost patience with Republicans’ susceptibility to the know-nothing-ism of the far right. I didn’t leave the Republican Party. I felt that the party left me.”
The break doesn’t come as too big of a surprise. During his tenure, Bernanke at times abandoned subtlety and pleaded with congressional Republicans – whose policies Bernanke saw as making the economy worse – to be more responsible. GOP lawmakers consistently refused.

Indeed, by 2013, when Republicans were trying to blame President Obama for the sluggish recovery, Bernanke said quite clearly that the biggest obstacle to stronger growth was the Republicans’ economic agenda.

When I “came out” as a Democrat in 2000, appalling many of my wonderful friends in the Marion County GOP, I was often asked why I’d left a party that I had belonged to for over 35 years.

My answer was identical to Bernanke’s: I didn’t leave; the party left me.

Today’s radical anti-woman, anti–immigrant, anti-science, pro-“God Guns & Guts” GOP is nothing like the party I joined and worked for so long ago.  It’s hard for people who weren’t around when Republicans were thoughtful adults and genuine conservatives to believe just how far the GOP has moved to the right, but here’s a chart with visual evidence of the extent of the radicalization…

The real question: will the inevitable defeat of its Presidential candidate (you can’t gerrymander the country) serve as a wake-up call and an incentive to move back toward reality? Or will the Grand Old Party break into its increasingly fractious factions?