THE WISDOM OF A LIBERATED REPUBLICAN, CONT’D…. Regular readers know that I’ve been fascinated with the plight of Rep. Bob Inglis, a conservative Republican lawmaker from South Carolina. Inglis’ congressional career will wrap up — involuntarily — later this year, and he prepares to leave, he’s sounding a whole lot more reasonable.
To briefly review, Inglis was recently humiliated in a GOP primary, losing by a ridiculous 42-point margin in a district he represented for more than a decade. What precipitated such a defeat? Inglis expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy; he urged his constituents not to take Glenn Beck too seriously; and he said his main focus as a lawmaker was to find “solutions” to problems. Last year, Inglis said the Republican Party has a chance “to understand we are all in need of some grace.” The result: GOP voters turned on him.
In the wake of his defeat, Inglis has been willing to show the kind of candor we don’t often hear from congressional Republicans. That’s included trashing conservative “demagoguery” during the health care debate; conceded that some of the right’s hatred of President Obama in the South is driven by racism; blasting GOP “Birthers,” and concluding that the Republican strategy of stirring up the party base is “a bad decision for the country.”
As part of his efforts, Inglis also talked to Mother Jones‘ David Corn about, among other things, just how crazy some Republican activists are, and followed up with CNN’s Rick Sanchez this week. The host struggled not to laugh while reading some of the remarks the congressman was confronted with during his unsuccessful re-election bid:
“‘I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings’ — I’m gonna try and not laugh here — ‘and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, ‘What the heck are you talking about?’ I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, ‘You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!'”
Inglis responded: “Well you know, I think that my colleague put it well to me last week. She said that her father used to tell her, ‘Leaders can either lead — or mislead.’ And you know, if you’re gonna lead, you need to lead with facts. And you need to help people the realities that we face.”
In the interview with Corn, Inglis also explained that he believes it’s just “a dangerous strategy to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible.” He also said he wanted to win, but wasn’t willing to lie, just to satisfy ideological extremism, paranoia, and bigotry.
Looking ahead, Corn asked Inglis about the GOP’s future, specifically former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R): “Inglis pauses for a moment: ‘I think that there are people who seem to think that ignorance is strength.’ And he says of her: ‘If I choose to remain ignorant and uninformed and encourage people to follow me while I celebrate my lack of information,’ that’s not responsible.”
In the 21st century, there’s no more room in the Republican Party for Bob Inglis. It’s a truth that speaks volumes.