The Tragedy of American Right
The Republican Party more than once declared to be the party of principles. Firm commitments to free trade, an openness towards immigrants, a responsible governing, the rule of law and a consistent foreign policy based on guarding the post-war world order and policing dangerous authoritarian regimes.
It’s not surprising that those values don’t shape the G.O.P. agenda anymore. As a center-right liberal, I’ve always had complaints about Republican stances on issues such as civil liberties, climate change, energy policy or welfare.
Sadly, their latest shift not only widened our mutual division but aroused an opinion of seeing modern G.O.P. as a threat to a liberal democracy.
Back during the George W. Bush presidency, reform misery came up. No significant reforming proposals of American healthcare system or higher education made it through the Congress. Entitlements, the topic often used by Republicans when confronting left on long-term sustainability, stayed untouched too. Not to mention ballooning public debt, disastrous drive for home ownership which had fueled the housing bubble, crony bailouts at the expense of the ordinary taxpayers, tax cuts from which benefited mostly high-income earners and crucial foreign policy-related stumbles. Still, despite Bush’s not so remarkable performance in the White House, he served as a decent man.
Later, the two terms of Barack Obama brought political unwillingness to find a common ground and demagogic rhetoric coming from Republicans and purists from the Tea Party. From calling Obama a marxist and muslim to chanting racist slogans while waving with signs with Obama faced as Hitler. These overreacted insults were about to set a new norm in a public debate.
A pattern which has caused, that rationality, decency and fact-based arguing are not the key pillars of debate these days.
We see the direct return of this nutty trend in Trump era from both right and left. Furthermore, G.O.P.’s systematical attempts to ruin any piece of legislation coming from Obama almost entirely humiliated the possibility of bipartisan cooperation.
But what caused the most significant disruption of the party? Of course the latest presidential elections. Both major parties offered uniquely weird options. The most unqualified candidate ever won. A man without any conservative record (quite the opposite!) don’t hesitate to call himself “the most conservative person in the world.” A president who set a new standard of disgrace, corruption, and primitivism within the public office.
“Trump is the new Reagan.” One of the funniest phrases which you could hear from Trump supporters. The actual reality of what is conservatism all about and self-explanation of it by today’s Republican Party, are two very different situations. Around every critical issue, there was an eminently different approach — Reagan’s tax reform did pass with bipartisan support and proper discussion, Reagan supported amnesty for illegals, he was in favor of universal healthcare, more open to stricter gun laws and most importantly, he was a class act. Ironically, the Republican’s ultimate idol would be by today’s standards considered by themselves as a so-called RINO and a socialist. Despite constant referring to Ronald Reagan as being their example, the number of “conservatives” who haven’t fallen into the regressive nationalist trap and still stand for real conservatism, could be counted on a single hand. Naturally, all of them are harsh Trump’s critics.
Asserting Trump is “second Reagan” is nothing more than a defilement of former President and his record. Period.
In the first year of Trumpism, barring an unprecedented amount of administration’s failures, endorsements of controversial candidates, executive overreach and strong polarization of the American society, Republicans have also shown how incapable they are, despite control of both branches of the federal government.
Almost every GOP legislative push is not only widely unpopular but also lack the support of fellow Republicans Just to name the few — proposed repeal of Obamacare (which failed twice) or recently passed tax reform favoring special interests, are the prime examples.
Transformation towards nationalist Bannon’s vision of political right, medieval-like approach on the most social issues combined with dysfunctional policies vastly influenced by donor-class, may be the Conservative’s death spiral.
Will the GOP revise back to the principles represented by much hated Senator Jeff Flake? For the world’s sake, we all should hope so.