Monday, December 10, 2012

Will GOP remain a far-right reactionary party?

A major question for American politics in the coming years is whether the Republican Party can divest itself of some of its far-right commitments of recent years. The Republican Party has abandoned moderation and consensus-seeking politics in recent years, as its far-right reactionary fringe has effectively captured the party.

Republicans have essentially sought to couple 1920s-era pre-Great Depression, pre-New Deal economic policies with 1950s-style pre-Civil Rights, pre-Women's Rights social policies. They have embraced efforts to monitor and control individual behavior in seemingly every non-economic sphere of life.

Republicans have also enshrined anti-intellectualism as one of their core values, denying scientific evidence and facts while distorting history and espousing crackpot macroeconomic theories without intellectual foundation.  On economic issues, they have opposed nearly all efforts to reverse the thirty-year trend of rising income inequality, with an ever-growing proportion of national income and wealth being absorbed by a small percentage at the top.

Are we seeing the first vestiges of Republican re-thinking as some finally acknowledge that their preferred policy of limiting taxation for the wealthiest citizens lacks public support?  Conservatives are seeking to misguidedly enforce austerity during a fragile economic recovery, a sure bet to plunge the economy into recession, though we now finally see signs of dissent from the preference for austerity.

The turn-back-the-clock approach was rejected in the 2012 election. Some Republicans have awakened to that fact. Yet some evince no understanding that their electoral losses were rooted in unpopular policy positions, not in a mere communication failure. The right-wing message is no longer popular, yet many Republicans cling to it.

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