Thursday, March 15, 2007

How The Right Went Wrong

Karen Tumulty of Time has a long cover piece on the disarray that the Republicans find themselves in these days. It's a strong article but there is something I must quibble with in her overall thesis.

But everything that Reagan said in 1985 about "the other side" could easily apply to the conservatives of 2007. They are handcuffed to a political party that looks unsettlingly like the Democrats did in the 1980s, one that is more a collection of interest groups than ideas, recognizable more by its campaign tactics than its philosophy.

One of my criticisms of the Mainstream Media and our culture is the notion that we have two parties and therefore we must have two ideas to compete with each other, as if this is some sort of ordained from above fiat. Interest party politics can be tiresome, and as Markos Moulitas Zuniga and Jerome Armstrong point out in 'Crashing The Gate', interest group politics can indeed be detrimental to victory when it is short sided. An example Kos uses often is NARAL supporting moderate pro-choice Republicans when they help the Republicans control congress, which persues an anti choice agenda.

Leaving that aside, it is troubling for our democracy when interest groups are in effect told to sit back and shut up in order to achieve party unity and victory. There are several competing interests in the Republican party today. If you are a social conservative, you shouldn't be required to be quiet just so Rudy Guiliani can escape unscathed from the primary. It is a false choice to say that both parties can effectively represent all opinions on all issues without some conflict.

It may end up being healthy for the GOP to be experiencing what they are going through these days. Party Unity is what brought us President Bush and his policies in Iraq, Katrina, as well as a culture of corruption. There wasn't anybody around being contrary to say that the party needed to correct it's course. The Baath party was very unified, as was the Soviet government. I am enjoying the fruits of the fractions in the GOP at the moment, but in the end, hopefully the Republicans will actually grow to be a better party, and engage the populace as better citizens if they stand any chance of leading again in the near future.

They will only get this chance when the identity groups are allowed to fight things out, and have their say. It's messy, but it's democracy.