Tag Archives: now and then

Once Upon a Time

I just saw a report about a recent interview with Bob Dole, in which he reportedly said he could not have been elected in today’s Republican party.

Not much later, I opened a book I brought with me—It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein (the latter someone I used to regard in the 1980s as extremely conservative)—and read the following:

[H]owever awkward it may be for the traditional press and nonpartisan analysts to acknowledge, one of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlierideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.

 Last night at dinner, the lovely Swiss couple at our table for the first time gingerly broached that “third rail” of conversational amity, politics. They spend four months of each year in south Florida, where their son lives, and it has become obvious during the course of the cruise that they travel extensively.

The dinner discussion was triggered by reports of the bridge that had collapsed in Washington State; they wondered why Americans resented paying taxes that are necessary—among other things—for the maintenance and repair of infrastructure. When we didn’t bristle or become defensive—we agreed that allowing bridges and highways to disintegrate was incomprehensible behavior—they shared their distress over what they see as the appalling rancor, partisanship and short-sightedness of the current Republican party.

I remember when most Republicans were fiscal conservatives and social liberals—when fiscal conservatism meant paying for the wars you fought, and a commitment to limited government meant–among other things–keeping the state out of your bedroom and your uterus.

The next time I hear some yahoo in a tri-corner hat insisting that he “wants his country back” (presumably from the black guy in the White House, and the gay activists and uppity women who think we’re all entitled to equal rights), I’m going to tell him (sorry, but it’s always a him) that I want my party back.

Someone ought to sue the people who currently call themselves Republicans for unauthorized use of the name.