Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The GOP, She Ain't What She Used to Be

Point: Liberal Sister

For many years, I heard the GOP referred to in a variety of colorful and memorable ways, most often “The Party of Lincoln” or “The Party of Reagan”. As a child, these phrases conjured up images of political giants destined to do great and powerful things. These days, however, the GOP is about as sturdy as a Lincoln Log house and as important as one of Ronald Reagan’s cheesy movies. There is much finger-pointing within the party, it seems, with no clear answer of how things have gotten so bad. I, however, have found the sources of the GOP’s woes: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, or as I like to call them, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And I, for one, could not be more thrilled.

Conservative readers may roll their eyes and say “of course the Liberal is going to name those guys”, but it couldn't be truer. There are undoubtedly some brilliant and respectable members of the right, like Colin Powell, but for every one of him, there are a hundred blowhards like Rush and Beck, who run off at the mouth with hate speech and fear-mongering, thereby painting the entire GOP with a very broad (and very negative) brush. If I were a Conservative, it would really frustrate and annoy me. A once-great and powerful party has imploded, and while the quiet majority seems to be searching for ways to revive the movement, the loud-mouthed minority alienates party members and will stop at nothing to blame everyone but themselves. And again, I could not be happier.

Why? Well for starters, it makes the Liberals look pretty good. After winning the majority of Congress in the 2006 elections, we have been on the upswing, while the Right seems to be in some sort of shame spiral. As far as I can tell, 2006 was really the beginning of the end, and 2008 was essentially the nail in the coffin of the GOP as we knew it. Sometimes when people of similar interests can’t work together, say an office that just can’t run efficiently, they might engage in some team-building exercises. That simply will never work for the Right, however; at least not as long as the team leaders are the aforementioned Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, and Hannity.

Those who disagree with me might say that those guys don’t speak for them, but the reality is they do! As long as no one of even temper and decency steps up to the mic and tells those guys to shut up, there will never be a truly reunited GOP. Great for me, not so great for the Right. There seems to be an atmosphere of fear when it comes to the Four Horsemen, and those who have dared to speak out against them have quickly (and shamefully) retracted their comments and apologized!! Huh?

Why would I want things to change, though? More and more people are being alienated from the GOP, and while that does not necessarily imply that they join the Democratic Party, the fact is that they are less likely to vote as they once did. So as much as I absolutely loathe these guys and wish they would go away, for the sake of my party I say keep it up, Horsemen! Every time you open your mouths, you make the Liberals look so much better (or at least more functional).

Counterpoint: Conservative Brother

Ah, Lincoln and Reagan; where have those days gone? Before responding to your arguments, I would contend that both Lincoln Logs and Reagan movies have stood the test of time; the Logs have been around since 1916 and don’t appear to be going anywhere, and who would pass up the chance to watch “Santa Fe Trail” with Reagan and Errol Flynn? Good times!

You are correct that the Republican Party is in trouble, and I will agree that part of the problem is some of the people you’ve identified above. I can’t say that I have much use for Rush or Hannity myself, since they have been taken up as the voice of the right-wing of the party and are responsible for trying to drive more moderate Republicans (such as the aforementioned General Powell) out of the “big tent.” Those that criticize Beck apparently don’t take the time to actually listen to him; he’s just as critical of Republicans as he is of Democrats, in some instances even more so.

I also won’t roll my eyes and say “Of course she’d pick these folks,” particularly since the Democrats have their own crazy public faces – Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, to name two. If you want to talk about two folks who are almost as much in love with the President as they are with themselves, these are your guys. If I were a Democrat, they would not be the ones I’d want speaking for me – and to paraphrase you, their lunacy gives mainstream media and the liberal side of politics their own nice shiny veneer of insanity. But when was there a paradigm shift in this country when talk show hosts and political commentators were given preeminence in the parties? As you alluded, parties used to be defined by the personalities and players – the Reagans and Carters, the Johnsons and Nixons, the Kennedys and Eisenhowers, the Rayburns and Goldwaters. A party – regardless of whether it is Republican or Democrat – is more than commentators and talking heads; it is the elected officials and party operatives, the local organization presidents and delegates, and the man and woman on the street.

It’s a big leap to say that Liberals in office look good right now, particularly since they’re about to jam a cap-and-trade bill and health care reform package down our throats, neither of which we can afford and both of which will hit you, me, and everyone we know in the wallet (more accurately, it will give us a swift kick in the ass and then continue to beat us while we’re down). You’ve got to love a party that says, “We’re in charge; we want this done; we don’t care what it takes; we don’t care who we steamroll or bankrupt in the process.” This to me is one of two things I can see happening with Republicans: Americans will get so tired of the current majority throwing our grandchildren’s money around without considering the circumstances, who they hurt, or how much it costs that the will get voted out within the next few election cycles. After all, look at 1964, 1976, and 1992; in each of those years, devastating defeats (LBJ”s landslide over Goldwater, Carter’s defeat of Ford, and Clinton’s roll over Bush 41) led folks to determine the GOP was dead. Well, folks were wrong.

The other thing I can see happening is the development of a third party and both the Democrats and Republicans becoming more marginalized. Recent polls show that more people – more moderates, particularly – are ditching their party affiliation and identifying themselves as Independents. If the right-wing of the Republican Party continues to try and drive moderates away, and if conservative Democrats continue to be turned off as a result of their leadership’s reckless spending (something of which both parties have been guilty, so I’m certainly not pointing fingers here), there’s the very real possibility of a new party rolling across the horizon and changing the political landscape for quite some time to come.

Democrats in Washington functional? Hardly. But until Republicans figure out what in the world they’re doing and develop some sort of unity – unity of message and unity of membership – Democrats are about the best we’re going to get.

God help us. (Sorry; for the benefit of the ACLU or anyone else who may be reading this, I suppose I should say “Higher being/unidentified deity/generic all-encompassing undefined non-religious being help us.”)


  1. Interesting blog, great articles. I find it surprising that Glenn Beck is suddenly lumped together with Rush, Hannity, and O'Reilly. For the past couple years (and for sure longer than he's had his Fox show and become a greater target) he has been blasting the GOP. He may be a fear mongerer, but it's too bad people don't listen to him besides a few selected monologues. His fear mongering over the past 4 years has tended to come true.

  2. Well, 1) I think a good reason the country is going down the tubes is the exact attitude that Matt's sister portrays above. 2) Let's get something straight - Colin Powell is not a Republican. He says John mcCain is his friend and yet waits until he knows the moment it will hurt McCain the most and stabs him in the back. I didn't vote for McCain or Obama so don't go there.

    3) Bill O'Reilly is just a blowhard and is no friend of the Republican establishment. But, I think the party is proud to have three conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh (who I don't listen to), Sean Hannity, and the great one, Mark R. Levin leading the way. Hmm, who has had the #1 best selling book for 10 out of the last 11 weeks. All WITHOUT the help of the biased liberal media. Answer? Mark R. Levin.

    4) The problem with the Re-pub-i-cans as Mark likes to call them is they are scared to death of alienating the biased media establishment. This is why you hear no one speaking out save for Mitt Romney. He gave a hell of a speech at the Heritage FOundation recently. Newt Gingrich was going great for a while until he called Sonia Sotomayor a racist then took it back. Racist maybe a little strong but she is definitely bigoted.

    5) As for the GOP, in order to win, they have got to get a clear message out there and they have also got to use all methods of communication like Obumma did during the last election and have got to do it soon.

    Lastly, as a Democrat, I look forward to see what your thoughts are on all this spending going on in Washington. Currently, this so-called 'health reform' is a disaster. The government got us into this mess starting in 1942, made a bigger mess with Medicare and Medicaid in 65, then really dug us in deep with Keendy's HMO act in 1973. Don't get me started on the EMTALA.

    But then, what do I know. I'm a conservative.

  3. What do you all think of Christopher Buckley saying Joe Scarborough is the new face of the GOP?

  4. Seriously, I'm in love with the Rhodes sister. :) Sorry Matt.

    You guys rock. This is a wonderful blog idea. It could be big!

    And really Matt - all the way back to lincoln logs for credibility? Sweetie... try harder. :)

  5. Casey, I listened to Glenn Beck for years. He's just not very smart. That's his biggest problem. O'Reilly and Rush are much smarter, even while I don't agree with them!

    Yes, he blasts the GOP, but he does it from the position of requiring them to be as naively conservative as he is.

    My least favorite (most memorable) Beck comment came on the day of Shock and Awe. (I was a daily listener back then.... this comment nearly finished my listening so appalling was it.) He said, "Don't you secretly just want to see the full scope of the American military unleashed on Iraq, I mean, really?" He was gleeful about the possibility.

    When it was finally aired on TV live, he lamented that it just wasn't as impressive as he'd expected.

    Yeah. So not smart.

  6. Joe Scarborough trashes conservatives to get ratings and to sell his book. Only problem? He has NO ratings and his book isn't selling.

  7. The new Scarborough book debuted #7 on the NY Times Best Seller list.

    I think that Joe is a good spokesman for conservatives.. not that "conservative" squawk TV and radio entertainers like him.. lol.. his message is not "conservative" enough for them.

  8. See


    This guy reminds me of Colin Powell, who is no friend to the Republicans. All he wants is to be loved by the liberal media. And that is not what a 'true' conservative would do. You DON'T abandon the principles of the conservative movement.

  9. Thx Lee for the links. I disagree with the blog's take on Joe but it doesn't surprise me because the blogger seems to have been influenced by the likes of Mark Levin. Of course Levin doesn't like O'Reilly and Michael Savage doesn't like Levin.. do these "conservatives" like other "conservatives".. or is it just about a ratings war?

    All that said I am really not interested in debating squawk tv/radio entertainers.. Joe included. If it is ever to get back on its feet the GOP has to get past the rhetoric of tv/radio entertainers. I mean come on.. we need leaders not talkers?

  10. Hi K Bob,

    I agree about the party needing a leader, but who might that be? Michael Steele has had trouble getting his message out there in the mainstream media.

    The problem with the GOP right now is that there are too many inside the beltway phony conservatives in Washington. For that reason,I think conservative talk radio is rocking right now because there is no one in Washington leading the charge based on conservative principles.

    Who in Washington will lead us back? I for one respect and admire Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. This is going to take time. Let's just hope the liberals in Washington and across this great land don't destroy America in the meantime.