Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Heart of the Republican Party

Robert Reich nails it descriptively with this bit in a post on his blog:
... standard Republican boilerplate since the 1920s — a wistful desire to return to the era of William McKinley, when the federal government was small, the Fed and the IRS had yet to be invented, state laws determined worker safety and hours, evolution was still considered contentious, immigrants were almost all European, big corporations and robber barons ran the government, the poor were desperate, and the rich were lived like old-world aristocrats.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, the Republican Party had a brief flirtation with the twentieth century. Mark Hatfield of Oregon, Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, and presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon lent their support to such leftist adventures as Medicare and a clean environment. Eisenhower pushed for the greatest public-works project in the history of the United States — the National Defense Highway Act, which linked the nation with four-lane (and occasionally six-lane) Interstate highways. The GOP also supported a large expansion of federally-supported higher education. And to many Republicans at the time, a marginal income tax rate of more than 70 percent on top incomes was not repugnant.

But the Republican Party that emerged in the 1970s began its march back to the 19th century. By the time Newt Gingrich and his regressive followers took over the House of Representatives in 1995, social conservatives, isolationists, libertarians, and corporatists had taken over once again.
To me, watching the Republican party today is like watching the Nazi party struggle as a political party to win the hearts and minds of Germans in the 1920s. I just hope November 2012 is not America's equivalent of Germany's January 1933. I simply can't understand how a civilized, advanced country like Germany could vote a plurality for the Nazis and let the politicians put Hitler in charge. But I'm watching something eerily similar in the US today.

No comments: