Rise of the GOP bogeyman


In time for Halloween, my colleague David S. Bernstein has a good read about how the national Republican Party is in the process of marginalizing itself:

The Limbaugh “dittoheads” have stormed GOP headquarters and devoured dissenters. As political columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote this past week in the Washington Post, “the cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet, and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity — and Sarah Palin. Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans, learned manifestoes by direct-mail hit pieces.” And let’s not forget robocalls.

Buckley, who died earlier this year, once said that he had spent his life “separating the right from the kooks.” He failed — the kooks now run the right.

They’ve overwhelmed Republican politics everywhere, from New Hampshire, where a conservative talk-show host won the congressional primary, to Nevada, where the GOP’s control of the State Senate depends upon the re-election of two freshmen who voted in favor of the death penalty for minors and for arming schoolteachers.

“What used to be the Southern Republican agenda is now the national Republican agenda,” says Lincoln Chafee, former Republican senator from Rhode Island — who became an independent after losing his bid for re-election in 2006, in large part due to a primary challenge from a hard-right conservative.

Thus, the hand-wringing and debate over the future of the GOP is likely moot. The direction of the party is no longer controllable, but is firmly in the hands of rabid ideologues, dead-certain that those who disagree with them are sure to destroy the American way of life. With stakes that high, and enemies so vile, they will bellow louder and louder — even as their numbers continue to shrink, which of course makes them more dangerous.

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