Easily said. Hard to do.
Democrats are now faced with the need for some serious party-building – isolating the radicals in the party by embracing the more levelheaded moderates in the party.
Oh wait... sorry. I bet you thought I was talking about Democrats rebuilding the Democratic Party. No. Obama pretty much did that during the primaries and campaign that followed. No, no, no. Democrats need to help rebuild the Republican Party, because if we don't “they” will.
Maybe we shouldn't be just a nation of two parties, but we are. And it's unlikely we are going to become a parliamentary system, which itself is imperfect. So it's Democrats and Republicans, as far as the imagination can conjure. So fixing the badly broken – dangerously broken – GOP should be priority 2 for Democrats.
But why, you ask, at a time when the nation is in such dire straits, should Democrats take the time and make the effort to help the GOP? Why not just let them stew in their own juices? Let Republicans fight amongst themselves over whether to hang their future on the likes of the moron from Alaska in order to appeal to the party's moron base, or to move back towards the center.
Because, if Democrats go that route they will only sentence us to decades more of the same. More of the boom and bust political cycle, in which one party prevails only because the other over-reached and made a hash of things, to be followed by another power switch, then another, a senseless, non-productive, destructive political see-saw act – plenty of ups and downs, but no forward movement.
The election opened up a rare moment of opportunity to break that cycle, but only Democrats can do it. It begins by reaching to moderate Republicans, some of whom were actually thrown out with the bathwater last Tuesday. By doing so Democrats can play a role in restoring an opposition party made up of men and women of good faith, good intentions, good minds, good character and – maybe most important of all, good manners.
Since the days of Ronald Reagan the Republican party has pandered to America's lowest common denominators, the Joe the Plumbers, Sarah Palins, Tony Perkins types. People who, when having to chose between narrow ideology and the wider common good, always chose narrow over wide. Who, when history, science and data contradict their fondest metaphysical fantasies, decide the only response is to materialize their fantasies by making them into law.
Those within the GOP who had something more than half-frozen tundra between their ears tended to object to the insanity. So, they had to go. Like Cambodia's former fundamentalist rulers, the Khmer Rouge, the GOP fundamentalist systematically purged their party of it's intelligentsia. Some of the last remaining conservative thinkers escaped during the recent Presidential race. Those who remain have been either beaten into submission or learned to grunt the party line with the worst of them.
“The enthusiasm generated by Palin shows that the party intends, wittingly or not, to replicate not just Bush's policies but his whole operating style. She is the most Bush-like figure conceivable. Jeb Bush would be a far more dramatic departure from the incumbent than her. Her utter lack of interest in policy, her obsession with certitude ("you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission"), her folksiness masking incoherence--all reflect the style of The Decider. The way Palin filled her government with grossly unqualified high school cronies eerily apes even the Bushian qualities that many conservatives have come to regret.” (Jonathan Chait, The New Republic.) (Full Article)
And that's why we Democrats need to put aside all our stored up animus towards the GOP and actually embrace moderate Republicans. We need to do this for the same reasons we've embraced Maliki in Iraq and Karzai in Afghanistan. Not because they are perfect, or because we agree with them, or because we think they have the right solutions most of the time -- or any of the time. But because if we don't the alternative is worse – far worse.
You and I know who I'm talking about when I refer to “neo-liberals. They are the flip side of the neo-conservative coin.
Neo-conservatives created a welfare state for the rich.