July 21, 2012

Not his daddy's candidate

Over the years friends have heard me many times say that the last reasonable Republican to hold the office of President of the United States was Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Ike departed in 1960 and his bat-shit Vice President ran against John Kennedy, Ike refused to endorse the idiot. JFK easily won and over the subsequent four years leading up to the next election the crazies started slowly hijacking the GOP.

By 1964 JFK had been assassinated and the right-wingers saw LBJ as vulnerable. The crazy hit the fan big-time (led by some oil-rich Texas brothers, but that is another story). Nixon didn’t try again this time and in ’64 Ike reluctantly endorsed Arizona’s Barry Goldwater, who lost badly to LBJ. The anger and discontent on the right continued to grow. Reasonable Republicans tried to stem this tide to no avail. There was too much crazy… too much money from rich donors… and by this time the South was Rising again.

Sound familiar?

There remained in the Republican Party a contingent of true conservatives. These are the folks who understand that fiscal policy should be the primary concern of conservatives, and that the Rights of Man did not permit politicians to inject social engineering into political debate.

These reasonable folks, these true fiscal conservatives tended toward a strict constitutionalist vision, but unfortunately found themselves badly outnumbered by those who wanted to insert a more authoritarian version of governing. LBJ’s obvious civil rights leanings had already precipitated a southern white flight and many former Yellow Dog, Dixie segregationists were already firmly encamped with the Republicans. Just like the Democrats before them, all that mattered was the votes. The Republicans gladly accepted the bigots into their tent.

In the next couple of years LBJ would sign the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1965, driving the rest of the religious extremists and separationist bigots into the Republican camp. Perhaps the GOPers thought they could control them and continue on a less hateful course, but that wasn't to happen. Reasonable Republicans recognized the threat and sought ways to contain the damage.

Mitt's daddy George was one of those remaining reasonable Republicans, and in 1968 in an effort to stem that hateful tide, tried to stand up to the extremists. George Romney tossed his name in the hat for the 1968 contest in an effort to inject some sanity into the rhetoric. The party turned on him, he lost badly and the Grand Old Party has been circling the drain since… taking the country with it.

Unfortunately a less principled GOPer won that 1968 nomination and eventually won the White House. Ike was still alive at the time and the fact that he still refused to endorse his former Vice President in that election should have told the electorate something, but it didn’t, and Nixon won in a near landslide.

Here we are 44 years later and the son of the principled conservative who in 1968 tried to nudge the GOP back toward the center is running for the office that his daddy failed to gain. But even though Mitt doesn’t seem to have learned much in the way of principles from his daddy, he does appear to have learned a little from George’s 1968 defeat.

There are large differences between the campaigns of the father and the son. Where daddy George had the spine to stand up to the hateful divisiveness brought to the GOP table by the resurgent McCarthyites, now we find Mitt kowtowing to the very faction that vilified his father.

It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when Mitt actually held somewhat reasonable views and would on occasion come to the table seeking compromise.

But that was before Citizens United made it legal to purchase an election, and just like Nixon before him Mitt is willing to sacrafice every last shred of ethics and reason for a win.


Old NFO said...

Interesting take, and can't really disagree, which is why I'm now an Independent...

jbrock said...

This, in a nutshell, is why I abandoned the GOP years ago and registered Democrat. At best, though, that was the slightly lesser or two evils. Now Obama has maintained the worst of George II's authoritarian policies--even doubling down on some of them--and most of the other high-level Dims are even worse. I'll be casting my executive-branch protest vote for ... I dunno, probably Gary Johnson, and simply voting against incumbents in every other office that's up for grabs.

Between the dithering pseudo-socialists on one side and the batshit insane holy rollers on the other, I'm increasingly convinced that we're just fucked beyond hope of recovery. I'm 50+, so I'll be riding this wreck all the way under, but maybe I can help vote in some quality entertainment before we all drown.

Know any Wobblies crazy enough to be running for office?

Netty said...
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