Skip to comments.Tea Party Wasting Energy Hunting an Extinct Species
Posted on 10/18/2013 7:23:58 AM PDT by Kaslin
"We've got to get the Rockefeller Republicans out of the party," a fellow told me in Minnesota recently. Or was it Arizona? Or Wilkes-Barre, Pa.? Actually, I think it was all three. I hear it all the time as I travel around the country speaking to conservative groups.
For those of you who don't know, the Rockefeller Republicans -- named after the former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller -- were the liberal, mostly Northeastern wing of the Republican Party.
Liberal Republican sounds like a contradiction in terms today, particularly for young people who grew up in the age of strictly ideological parties. But for most of American history, the parties weren't strongly ideological institutions so much as coalitions of interests. There were very liberal Republicans and very conservative Democrats. Occasionally parties were defined -- or indeed created -- over single issues (the GOP was created to fight slavery, for instance), but the idea that you can guess someone is a conservative or liberal just by their party ID is a fairly recently development.
The Rockefeller Republicans were authentic liberals well to the left of Richard Nixon, who would today be considered to be left of the GOP on most issues. They liked the New Deal, or at least grew to like it. Rockefeller Republicans believed in fiscal rectitude, but only to the point where they thought the party should be, in Newt Gingrich's cutting description, "tax collectors for the welfare state." Abortion didn't become a big issue until after they were already in decline, but they were unabashedly pro-choice. In fact, the Rockefellers were among the earliest and most ardent supporters of population control and eugenics.
And guess what? The Rockefeller Republicans are basically extinct, at least among GOP officeholders. Sure, there are a handful of descendants with some Rockefellerian DNA hiding in the woods of New York, Maine and Pennsylvania. But even they are on the endangered species list.
And yet, there's this idea that they control the party. Even Pat Buchanan, who knows this history better than most, recently wrote that the current battle between the GOP establishment and the forces allied with Ted Cruz is essentially a replay of the old fight between Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller.
There are certainly some similarities -- there are familiar contours to every battle for control of a party. But the differences are far more relevant and profound. Pick any three defining issues of conservatism -- say, smaller government, low taxes and opposition to abortion, or a strong national defense, entitlement reform and gun rights -- and you'll be hard-pressed to find the supposedly liberal Republican "establishment" on one side and the Tea Party faithful on the other.
Even on the policies that are splitting Republicans these days -- say, foreign policy or immigration -- the rift does not neatly divide the establishment and the "real conservatives."
Such a statement will no doubt infuriate many conservatives who believe that the establishment is insufficiently committed to conservative principles. And that is an entirely fair complaint. But that criticism is about efficacy and passion, not policy or philosophy. And this is a hugely important distinction that has been deliberately airbrushed out of the picture painted by groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks. The inconvenient truth for these groups is that the current GOP establishment is more conservative than it has ever been.
In the recent internecine conservative donnybrook over the government shutdown, the insurgents insisted they were in an ideological struggle with the establishment. But there was precious little ideology involved. Instead, it was a fight over tactics and power. The Republican Party almost unanimously opposed Obamacare, and the Republicans who've been in office far longer than Cruz & Co. have voted more than three dozen times to get rid of the disastrous program. And yet, the latecomers to the battle talk as if the veterans in the trenches were collaborators the whole time.
I have enormous sympathy for their frustration, because I share it.
But the real source of that frustration is not the insufficient conservatism of the establishment; it's the insufficient power and popularity of conservatism coupled with the very real failures of the GOP to reverse conservatism's fortunes over the last two decades.
That's certainly reason enough to be mad at the establishment. But replacing the current leadership with even more ardent, passionate and uncompromising conservatives is far from a guaranteed formula for making the Republican Party more popular or powerful. To do that, the GOP needs to persuade voters to become a little more conservative, not to hector already-conservative politicians to become even more pure as they go snipe-hunting for the Rockefeller Republicans.
A link to share with everyone:
“And guess what? The Rockefeller Republicans are basically extinct, at least among GOP officeholders.”
Yes, they’ve been largely replaced by corporatists. They like to sell the rope that will eventually hang them. There still are some though. Especially with social issues.
Ben Franklin warned that if we don’t hang together we’ll surely hang separately.
John McCain and friends saw a business opportunity, started measuring necks and investing in rope.
Jonah is right about one thing. The Rockefeller Republicans are long gone. They were replaced by the ObamaRepublicans.
and I do think it is one word.
My congressman is strong on all of them. He’s quiet and doesn’t make much noise but he tends to do the right thing.
I'll take this as confirmation that I did the right thing letting my subscription to National Review expire.
Johan = Jonah
What is jonah blathering about?
It’s a lot of words.
Something about republicans needing to convince voters to become more conservative
The republican establishment has shown themselves to be who they are- bought and paid for. Does he pretend McConnell is going to get anything done?
The only thing that can be done is to keep the train from wrecking, and the GOP tries to destroy the protector
I will have absolutely no problem remembering those who bloviate in defense of the obstructers. Of course they are worse than liberals. They are Trojan horses
The devil would love you to believe he doesn’t exist either.
Remember Reagan used to talk about the Republican party having a “big tent”?
I would suggest that, there is a need for a big tent so that conservative Republicans can get enough support to win elections.
I’m also concerned that we’re seeing more and more identity politics, what with increasing numbers of ethnic minorities. The liberals have lambasted the GOP as a party of older whites. And suggest that any minority should find their political home in the Democrat party because the GOP is somehow racist and bigoted. We have to fight these stereotypes.
Off the top of my head, I can think of numerous minority and minority women Republicans:
Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada
Mia Love, past and maybe future congressional candidate from Utah
Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico
Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina
Tim Scott, Senator from South Carolina
Alan West, former congressman from Florida
Marco Rubio, Senator from Floria
Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas
All of these are prominent members of minority groups and are Republicans. Yet somehow the GOP is racist, per the media and the liberals. Part of a big tent for the GOP has to include getting more minority voters in this America in which white voters are a declining proportion of voters.
We have to stress to minority voters that GOP issues such as taxation, smaller government, etc. are issues in which the GOP reflects their values.
This is horse blank, in my opinion, the idea that if you are some minority group, you need to vote Democrat because Democrats will protect government programs and protect you from the evil GOP.
Look into my eyes. You’re getting sleepy. Your eyelids are feeling heavy....
No Jonah, they've just learned that if they want to keep their power and cushy jobs that they have to campaign as Reagan conservatives before they go on to govern as Rockefeller Republicans. Like chameleons they change their colors at will to survive in whatever environment they find themselves.
Is he trying to say that John McCain and Mitt Romney are conservatives? Sorry, I am not buying it. I used to have a lot of respect for Goldberg, but not anymore.
Complete, utter and bald-faced BS. The votes to 'get rid' of Obamacide were votes that Republican leadership knew would never, ever see the light of day in the Senate. They were safe political votes, simple gamesmanship intended to show the folks back home that yeah, the Republicans really are standing up to Dear Leader.
Only, they weren't. The time to actually get rid of Obamacide just passed and when the Republican Party had a chance to stand up on its hind legs and actually take a stand that meant something, they folded like a house of cards.
When the chips were down, the establishment Republicans that Goldberg is trying so hard to suck up to had retreated once again. Leaving the base left holding the bag -- once again.
Conservatives are not fooled. It's now open war.
I was educated in Germany and no where in our religion studies that we had in school did it refer to Jonah as Johan, Neither in the bible nor in the catechism. Johan or Johannes actually means John
Grrrrrrrr....why you I oughta.....
Overthinking - he spelled Jonah wrong and was correcting it.