Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Decline of the Republican Party

I am not opposed to a two-party system. In fact, I consider rule by a single party – without an ‘honorable opposition’ to be extremely dangerous. Scientists have a peer-review process to review submissions. Courts have their own adversarial system. Even the Catholic Church knew the value of a ‘devil’s advocate’.

The American people would be well served to have the policies proposed by those in power given a careful review by a group of intelligent and well-meaning individuals who happen not to share the particular prejudices of those in power. These reviewers can perform the service of having those in power give some second thoughts to the policies they enact.

But this service is best performed by what I called intelligent and well-meaning people.

The Republican Party has turned itself into a haven for half-wits, liars, and sophists. It is made up of Republicans like George Bush who is simply too stupid to understand the world in which he lived and who stumbled around the White House like a two-year-old in an exhibit of priceless Chinese artifacts. And it is made up of Republicans like Rush Limbaugh who has absolutely no respect for truth or intellectual integrity, or former Vice President Dick Cheney, who appears to have no moral conscience whatsoever.

Ultimately, the blame rests on the rank-and-file Republicans who have made these people the spokesmen for their party.

There have been a number of news stories recently about Republican attempts to rebuild the party. One faction in this dispute are named ‘big tent’ Republicans who think that Republicans need to broaden their appeal and bring in more people that dogmatic Republicans tend to alienate. It means softening their stand on certain core principles.

These are opposed by the Republican Purists who think that the problem with the Republican Party is that it lost its way. Even though they are party of small government and individual responsibility, they ended up supporting a vast increase in government power and government expenditure.

As I see it, neither option reflects the true problem with the Republican Party. This is the fact that its members have no respect for truth or intellectual integrity.

We can start with the issues of evolution and global warming. We are talking hard science, here, and the scientific facts are in. People who want to deny these facts have to accept greater and greater absurdities. They have to shut their mind to evidence about what the real world is like. To the degree that they are desperate to blind themselves to truths they do not want to see, to that degree they make themselves poor guides of a free people into whatever future is before us.

A leader – or a leading party - must have a respect for the evidence and be willing to follow where the evidence leads.

The main reason why the Bush Administration was such a spectacular failure is because it had absolutely no respect for evidence. Instead of looking at the evidence and drawing the best conclusions, they first adopted a set of conclusions and looked for the evidence to support it. Even if they had to torture people to get them to ‘confess’ to what the Administration knew to be true, the way Inquisitors in the medieval times would get witches and heretics to ‘confess’ to whatever the Inquisitor wanted to hear.

It even went so far as to rewrite scientific publications and manipulate scientific research based on the philosophy that, “If I believe X, then the research must show that X is true.”

The Republicans need to find new leaders. It needs leaders who are honest and who demands honesty from others, even their supporters. It needs leaders who have respect for the evidence and who will adopt a position because the evidence suggests that it is true, rather than adopting evidence because it supports a belief he has already adopted.

Such a leader will have to be somebody who accepts that the earth is round and not flat, that mental illness is a disease and not a sign of demonic possession, that human sacrifice will do nothing to appease the god of volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks. It will have to be a leader who can accept the simple scientific fact that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, that over that time life evolved from simple organisms to what we see today. It will have to be a leader who can understand the simple scientific fact that CO2 is transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared radiation and will warm the planet to the degree that we add CO2 to the atmosphere.

If a leader is willing to entertain fantasies when it comes to the hard sciences, we have absolutely no reason to respect his knowledge and understanding of the softer sciences such a economics or moral philosophy. If he is willing to ignore and disregard the hard data where hard data is available, and lie (and torture ‘confessions’ out of people) when it serves a political end, then he is not going to have tight enough grasp of reality to pilot a nation through real-world dangers.

I want to write a series of articles written from a conservative perspective that show that a person does not need to be either a half-wit or a self-serving demagogue to express legitimate conservative concerns. In doing so, I am not going to say anything that I do not believe has merit. There are real issues out there that should be debated. As long as the Republican party is the party of half-wits and self-serving demagogues, there are serious concerns that have no respectable voice to defend them.


arbus said...

You can find the seeds of the GOP's destruction with Ronald Reagan, and his proclamation in the 1981 Inaugural Address:

Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

This belief is what lead to the GOP we have today. If we have people leading the government who believe government cannot do anything right, you get incompetent leaders and incompetent government.

The Vicar said...

Why settle for two parties? It would be much better for purposes of error checking and efficient representation if there were lots and lots of small parties which formed temporary coalitions. Except that it would require our elected representatives to actually read the legislation they're voting on (as, for example, they did not with the PATRIOT Act) and do actual work, rather than spending lots of time dinking around. So, like term limits, it will never happen.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


There is nothing in Reagan's Arbus,

There is nothing in Reagan's statement that calls demands the level of moral decay that we have seen in the Republican Party. It does not have to be a party that abandons science and reason. There are still good reasons to believe that there are complications to be had when we expect the government to solve our problems.

I hope to get to a few of them in the next few posts.

The Vicar,

In a 'winner take all' political system we have to expect two parties. If you want to see more than two parties, then you need to change the system whereby a person can win an election without getting 50% + 1 of the vote. Parliamentary systems typically allow any party that gets 5% or more of the vote to select representative to Parliament. There, it is possible to have more than two parties.

Not here.

At least not for any extended period of time.

If the Republican party ultimately fails, then the Democratic Party will split, and we will once again have two parties.

Baconsbud said...

I believe we do need a viably third party to make it more real. The population of this country is to diverse for two very limited parties on a national level. When I look at either the Democratic or Republican party, I see elements of both I like. The problem is when I vote I have to pick the best of two not good chooses. Most that run for national office are either liberal or conservative, while around 50% of Americans see themselves as moderate. The problem with a third party is it could make Congress even slower then it already is.

I think the Republican party did themselves in by closing their eyes to anything that could hinder their wish to control lives. You are right that they have drawn many that only have a small view of life. They focus only on one or two issues when they look at who to vote for. That makes it easy for people who don't deserve to be elected to get elected.

With all the new ways of getting information, this has allowed voters to be better aware of the actions of politicians and their ignorance at times. I think the internet has helped to hurt the Republican party in many ways. How many things we access to now would we have had access to 30 years ago? I can now check everyday on bills being debated in either the House or the Senate. These types of things are what are making more of us aware of what the people we elect are doing.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


If we need a viable third party, then we need a political system that will allow a party to seat representatives even though it gets only 30% of the vote - something more parliamentarian than we have now.

I am not saying that you are mistaken. I am only identifying the pre-conditions.

Baconsbud said...

I think we could have a third party and not use a parliamentarian type system. At most of the elections here there is at least one in which 3 people are running. If one of them doesn't get the 50.1% of the votes, they have a run off between the top two. Of course if all the election spots did have 3 people running it could be a problem. I also doubt a third party would remain. Within a few elections it would be back to two I figure. Even if it was for only a few elections I think it would be good for all.

Kristopher said...

wihtout parliamentary style reforms third parties shoot themselves in the face by splitting the vote.

i would like to see an alernative to the democratic party that i could get behind.

i dont consider myself pro democrat but i do consider myself anti repiblican and that doesnt leave me alot of options...