‘We are in the era of craziness’

‘WE ARE IN THE ERA OF CRAZINESS’…. Life-long Republican Chris Currey has a thoughtful piece over at David Frum’s place, explaining his belief that his party has lost its mind. Currey doesn’t exactly break new ground — his fears and concerns will no doubt seem familiar to most who keep up with current events — but his piece is worth reading anyway.

I am an old Republican. I am religious, yet not a fanatic. I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee. I am socially conservative; yet, I believe that my lesbian niece and my gay grandchild should have the full protection of the law and live as free Americans enjoying every aspect of our society with no prejudices and/or restrictions. Nowadays, my political and socio-economic profile would make me a Marxist, not a Republican.

I grew up in an era where William F. Buckley fought the John Birch society and kicked them out of the Republican Party. I grew up with — in fact voted for the first time for — Eisenhower. In 1956, he ran a campaign of dignity. A campaign that acknowledged that there are certain projects better suited to be handled by the government. See, business thinks in the short term, as he said. That’s the imperative of the marketplace. I invest and I expect that in a few quarters, I garner the fruits of my investment. Government, on the other hand, has the luxury to wait a few years, maybe decades, for a return on a given investment. As a former businessman, I know that first hand. Am I a Marxist for thinking that?

Probably, at least as far as today’s Republican base is concerned.

Currey, like Northern Republicans from a half-century ago, applauded the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. He opposed Medicare at the time, but has since come to recognize its importance to society. He voted for Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush, and doesn’t feel as if his values or priorities have changed.

Then something happened in the 1990s. The leaders of the GOP grew belligerent. They became too religious, almost zealots. They became intolerant. They began searching for purity in Republican thought and doctrine. Ideology blinded them. I continued to vote Republican, but with a certain unease. Deep down I knew that a schism happened between the modern Republican Party and the one I grew up with. During the fight over the impeachment of President Clinton, the ugly face of the Republican Party was brought to the surface. Empty rhetoric, ideological intolerance, vengeance, and religious zealotry became the common currency. […]

Recently, since the election of Barack Obama, common sense has left the Republican Party completely. We are in the era of craziness…. We shrank [the party] when we sanctified Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, and canonized Sarah Palin. These are the leaders of my party nowadays. How did we go from William F. Buckley to Glenn Beck? How did we go from Eisenhower and Nixon to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann? I do not know…. I do not recognize myself in the Republican Party anymore.

I, not surprisingly, find all of this quite compelling. But it also reinforces my biggest concern about the midterm elections.

When a party becomes as radical and irresponsible as the Republican Party of 2010 has become, the only way to bring it to its senses is for it to suffer electoral humiliation. The GOP went sharply to the right after the 2004 elections, and it lost in 2006. Republicans then went even further to the right, and lost in 2008. In response, they went even further still to the right.

If 2010 is an electoral bonanza for the GOP, the party will assume that the way a party wins elections is to have its members become stark raving mad. If 2010 is another humiliating failure for the GOP, the party may be more inclined to identify their most ridiculous and dangerous habits, and consider where they went wrong.

Republicans appear to have lost Chris Currey, and with good reason. But unless Currey has a lot of like-minded friends voting in November, the party won’t bother to try and get him back.