In spite of their rising popularity in the polls, Republicans are divided about the future of their party. After the evangelic surge under George W. Bush, the anti-Obama populism of Glenn Beck, Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin appalls those conservatives who would rather move the party back to small government and free markets.
A few days ago, JD Roger quoted Ronald Reagan biographer Steven Hayward when he declared the Republican Party “brain dead”. Hayward longs for the days when right-wing intellectuals like Allan Bloom, Milton Friedman and Francis Fukuyama inspired the Republican agenda. The American right has been reduced to “birthers” and “tea partygoers” who are encouraged by blustering lunatics like Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
Writing for The Washington Post, Jon Cohen and Dan Balz explain why so many conservatives turn to these hysterics. Besides a strong anti-Obama sentiment, they argue there is little that holds the Republican Party together. Not even half the Americans who identify as a “Republican” approve of the direction in which the party’s leaders are pushing them.
They don’t even known who their leaders are supposed to be. No more than two out ten favor Sarah Palin. Just 1 percent said former President Bush represented “the best reflection of the party’s principles.”
In spite of strong internal disagreement on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, the Post states that most Republicans “see the party as paying too little attention to federal spending. Most strongly oppose the government’s use of hundreds of billions of dollars over the past two years to bolster the economy.”
Yet it was under the last Bush Administration that government spending skyrocketed while Republicans in Congress today dare hardly voice any criticism of massive bailouts and outright government takeovers of businesses.
The economic downturn has silenced even the staunchest of capitalists in Washington, even though many Republican voters are protesting loudly against further government intrusion in their private lives — and in their private businesses.