Reasonable Republicans = New Democrat

Mike MurphyRichard Barry over at The Reaction writes, How the Republican Party Could Save Itself. In it, he discusses a Time magazine article by Mike Murphy, Can This Party Be Saved? Barry, like most liberals, holds out some hope that we might some day get a reasonable opposition party. And Murphy’s idea does sound good. But I think it is meaningless.

There are two kinds of non-crazy Republicans in America.[1] The first kind is exemplified by David Cay Johnson, who aligns with Republican ideals but doesn’t seem to agree with them on any actual policy and rarely votes for them. Then there are the others. Many of these people seem reasonable, but like David Frum, they still managed to convince themselves that Mitt Romney would make a better president than Barack Obama. Simply: anyone still voting Republican is either evil or just not paying attention.

Murphy tells us there are two competing definitions of conservatism:

One offers steadfast opposition to emerging social trends like multiculturalism and secularization. The alternative is a more secular and modernizing conservatism that eschews most social issues to focus on creating a wide-open opportunity society that promises greater economic freedom and the reform of government institutions like schools that are vital to upward social mobility.

The problem here is that he’s just described the Republican and Democratic parties. And this is the problem with “moderate” Republicans: they are always calling for a party that already exists. The fact that they could solve all their problems by switching parties means one of two things. Either they are too partisan to see the truth or they secretly like what the Republicans are doing but want to be more discrete. I’m sure there is some of the former. Thomas Friedman certainly seems to fall in this category, and I don’t think he is even a Republican. But most people fall in the latter category: they just want to talk nice about vile policy.

I’m with Richard Barry: I’d like to see Republicans turn into a more reasonable party. But I have little hope of this. It all comes down to the very definition of conservatism. The movement is bound by the idea that the way things are is the way that things should be. Any change to the status quo would be bad. The same people who once argued that slavery was all part of God’s plan now argue that teenage motherhood, the nobility of the rich, and religious wars are all part of God’s plan.

Contra what all conservatives believe in their souls: we have not reached the end of history. There is so much that we could do to create a more egalitarian world that does a far better job of maximizing happiness. But for all the talk of people like Murphy, they only want progress that keeps things as they are. And it is the oxymoronic quality of this thinking that will stop the Republican Party from ever becoming reasonable.


[1] There are two kinds of people in the world:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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