Right-wing commentators have repeatedly opined that the United States Democratic Party is pursuing a radical left-wing agenda that is undermining its appeal with moderate voters. On the left, a similar argument is made against the Republican Party now.
On his Fox News show earlier this week, Bill O’Reilly urged Democratic leaders to understand that “the country has had enough of quasi-socialism.” The party might collapse, he predicted, if the far left continues to push its agenda.
But, “in both parties there is danger in the air,” according to O’Reilly who reminded viewers that the extremist tendencies of the Tea Party movement pose a threat to its credibility.
Because of uncanny activity on its fringes, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC previously declared the entire Tea Party phenomena racist. The anti-government protesters are using “euphemisms,” he said last month, to disguise their bigotry: denouncing the president as a “socialist” or accusing the majority party of “destroying America.”
According to some, even the more intellectual opposition to “big government” and what O’Reilly described as “quasi-socialism” is hurting the GOP’s chances in the next election however. In an article for Salon, Michael Lind challenged “Ayn Rand geeks” to “bring it on.”
A new right is being born, following the death of the older conservative movement. Fortunately for the left, the next American right is dominated by libertarians like Ron Paul and Paul Ryan, who worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand.
This, said Lind, is great news for progressives. The Republican Party never fared well under libertarianism which supposedly favors only the rich and famous. With Ryan and Paul and those Cato Institute highbrows defining the New American Right, they “will ensure its minority status for decades.”
Unfortunately for both Lind and libertarians though, these Ayn Rand-inspired thinkers hardly dominate the Republican Party, let alone the American right. There is a renewed constitutional conservatism taking shape in the vein of Barry Goldwater’s branch of Republican ideology, but the overall majority of GOP lawmakers today continue to be either neoconservatives or social conservatives whose hearts shake with terror when they consider the possibility of losing support from their evangelical base.
That the party should move in a more libertarian direction nonetheless can do little harm. Voters, after all, rejected neoconservatism after eight years of George W. Bush and now, a majority of Americans look unfavorably upon the alternative they elected as well. There is no denying that the Democrats lost a lot of support in recent months. Republicans have done well in opposition yet so far, it’s only their libertarian flank that has come up with truly different ideas. If they intend to capitalize on the anti-Democratic sentiments most furiously expressed by the Tea Party movement, old-fashioned conservatism probably won’t do.