By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
Given how low the Republicans have fallen in popularity in the past several years -- mainly because of the dire economy, the endemic corruption, the never-ending war in Iraq, the extremist snooping on ordinary Americans, a government that doesn't function well in emergencies, torture as state policy, etc. -- given all that, one would think that the GOP higher-ups would realize that John McCain is heading for an ignominious defeat unless some major policy shifts in the party move it back closer to the middle.
But, no, almost as if they have an uncontrollable death-wish, the Republicans remain locked into a self-destructive separation from the popular will. Either that or they simply are incapable of thinking straight after eight years of sensory-deprivation in the dark CheneyBush spin chamber.
The public in general has moved ahead of the politicians in so many areas: opposing the endless Iraq occupation, tolerant of same-sex relationships, eager to move beyond divisive race politics, desirous of effective regulation of food and product safety, even more supportive of Social Security and Medicare, open to major health-care reform, etc. Yet those in charge of the Republican Party continue to hitch their wagon to the old extremist shibboleths that play well mainly to the fundamentalist and Old South base, which by this time is barely 25% of the electorate.
This status-quo tropism in the GOP may be great for Democrats in the November election, but may be horrificly bad for the body politic in general, keeping in play the worst sorts of divisive, hate-filled rhetoric both for the presidential campaign and the next four years in Congress.
Indeed, one could make the case that at least a good share of Barack Obama's popularity rests on the public's perception that he is trying to move America away from the extreme rhetoric practiced by both major parties in the past several years and back to a more rational, positive way of conducting politics in the 21st century so that something positive actually can be accomplished in Washington.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...
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