As I have told many of my readers I have been very busy working 10 ½ to 11 ½ a day and I have found a subject, and thus the time, to post on this current phenomena subject with reference to the upcoming election.
I am writing this posting from the viewpoint of growing up in a Moderate Republican family….or what some are calling today, “RINOS.” The current Republican “Du Jour” Party today has set itself to frantically, fanatically expunge its moderates, quasi-moderates, suspected moderates, and fellow travelers of moderates chose as its standard bearer the lineal heir, biographically and genealogically, to its moderate traditions.
Moderates, or at least relative moderates, do continue to exist in the Republican Party. They merely do not exercise power in any meaningful, open way. They provide off-the-record quotations to reporters, expressing unease over whichever radical turn the party has taken at any given moment. They can be found in Washington and elsewhere rolling their eyes at their colleagues. There are still the odd figures, such as John McCain, with nothing left to lose who will even deliver a forceful assault on the party’s uncompromising direction. For the most part, “Republican Moderation” is a kind of secret creed, a “Freemasonry” aspect of the right to speak as such.
Today “Moderate Republicans” lack the institutions that might legitimize, to even present a voice, or language to express themselves. Instead today, “Conservatism” is the only acceptable ideology, and the Party will NOT allow any open arguments with itself to at least take into consideration a much less extreme agenda. Any assemblance of what could appear as a “Debate” in the Republican Party is entirely between genuine ultra-conservative ideological warriors, plus some uncomfortable self-preserving conscripts, on nothing more than what can be called a self-imposed “Inquisition” to purge via “Political Witch Hunts” for the secret heresies of Moderates within the Party.
To win the Republican nomination, Romney stood shoulder to shoulder with his party’s ultra right reactionary wing. When Romney took on his hapless opponents, he assailed them from the right, as “Soft on Immigration” or Anti-Capitalist.” Now that he is on the national rounds campaigning, and expounding a softer moderate view to the general electorate in hopes of gaining the independents and moderates across the spectrum; rest assured should he get into office the Ultra Conservatives will be in control and pushing their extreme agendas that will ultimately harm, if not destroy, the Middle Class citizens of this country.
It was not like this when I was growing up and my parents were the voting Republicans of their time. Republican moderates in the early 1960s held a place of influence and comfort within their party that is hard to imagine today. The worldview of the party’s Rockefeller faction was formed and propagated with the help of organizations such as the Ripon Society, Republican Advance, and the Committee on Economic Development, and publications such as the New York Herald Tribune, Confluence, and Advance. Then when the great wave of the “Goldwater Movement” arrived in the early 1960s, with the explicit goal of cleansing the party of moderates and re-making it in the image of monolithic conservatism, the moderates fought back, albeit using more gentlemanly methods than those often employed against them
Moderates at the GOP convention in 1964 proposed a resolution condemning extremism of all varieties. Goldwater supporters voted it down, their position echoed by the candidate’s famous declaration that “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice” and that “Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue.” Many moderates stalked out of the convention, including Michigan Governor George Romney and his teenage son, Mitt. (My how times have changed!!)
When conservatives defeated “Moderate Republican California Senator Thomas Kuchel,” he lashed out at what he called a “Fanatical Neo-Fascist Political Cult” in the grips of a “Strange Mixture of Corrosive Hatred and Sickening Fear.”
The “Moderate Republican Tradition” had always leaned heavily on elitism, which abhorred demagoguery and the crude appeals to self-interest that they correctly identified with the machine hacks and “Southern Racists of the Democratic Party” in the 1960’s. As I have written in the past, it was “Maryland Republican Governor Spiro Agnew” who toured the South and converted the “White Democratic Southerner Klansmens” into the Republican Party. With this accomplishment Nixon brought him on as his Vice President running mate.
Nixon’s strategy of counting upon “White Southern Tradition Resentment” began to identify the party as a LESS congenial place for thoughtful, educated people. Nixon’s re-branding of the party helped set in motion a long-term political swap, in which Republicans slowly lost support among white voters with a college education while gaining traction among the white working class.
The transformation is now so complete that Rick Santorum can proudly announce “We will never have the Elite, ‘Smart’ People on our side!” Of course “Smart” referring not to native intelligence, but to those who aspire to a certain level of intellectual respectability.
What remains of “Moderation” within the party has taken on a definition very distinct from the meaning that it held originally. Unlike the moderate and liberal Republicans of yore, today’s “Moderates” generally identify themselves as “Conservatives,” probably mainly out of fear of being ostracized or even expunged by the Party.
So in conclusion when Mitt Romney is now going around presenting his new found “Chameleon Moderate and Middle Class Kinder” side placating and pandering to the “Working Middle Classes” for their votes; let it be known the ultimate result will be in the vision of the Rush Limbaughs, Koch Brothers, and other Extreme Voices of Right-Wing “Purity Forces.”